Inspire Pharmaceuticals, which already has a number of eye treatment products and drugs under development, has licensed several patents for technology to be used to combat glaucoma.

Inspire said Thursday that it struck an agreement with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation. The patents are based on work done by professors Paul Kaufman of the University of Wisconsin and Benjamin Geiger of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Inspire said it made an upfront payment and agreed to pay milestone payments as research and development progresses followed by royalties on any drugs that are approved. The amount of the first payment was not disclosed.

“We pursued an agreement with Inspire for several reasons, including Inspire’s expertise and focus in ophthalmology, their ability to move a project effectively from discovery to commercialization, and their ability to marshal the necessary resources to make this promising program a success,” Kaufman said in a statement.

Kaufman is past president and current executive vice president of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, past president of the International Society for Eye Research (ISER), and has served on the United States National Advisory Eye Council and other foundation and corporate scientific advisory boards.

Kaufman and Geiger have been working together for more than 10 years. Geiger is an expert in development of so-called cytoskeleton targeting drugs that could reduce pressure in the eye, a factor in causing glaucoma.

“The patents are based upon a first-in-class, novel mechanism that targets the underlying cause of the disease,” said Christy Shaffer, CEO of Inspire. “Building on Drs. Kaufman and Geiger’s extensive research, we plan to work rapidly to identify an optimal compound to advance into clinical development and are targeting 2006 for an Investigational New Drug filing with the Food and Drug Administration.”

Inspire already sells Elestat and Restasis for treatment of eye problems. Its other product, diquafosol, is undergoing another Phase III trial after questions were raised by the FDA.

Also on Thursday, Inspire (Nasdaq: ISPH) said it generated $7.3 million in revenue during the third quarter, up $2.1 million from 2003 as the sales programs for Elestat and Restasis were launched.

Inspire is working with Allergan under a co-promotion agreement.
Costs increased to $14.3 million due largely to the $5.1 million spent on sales and marketing for the two drugs. The loss for the quarter ended up being $10.2 million, or 28 cents a share.


A ‘Very Significant’ Win for Wilmington Pharma

aaiPharma was not the only big winner when the FDA approved a new formulation of the allergy drug Allegra last month.

Osmotica Pharmaceutical, which is based in Wilmington as is aaiPharma, co-developed Allegra-D, which combines an antihistamine and decongestant. Osmotica’s trade-marked Osmodex technology was used to create the once-daily dose. The company focuses on controlled release of drugs.

“This is a very significant achievement for the Osmotica Pharmaceutical development and manufacturing transfer teams,” said CEO David Muth in a statement. “Additionally, the approval serves as a strong endorsement of our proprietary combination drug delivery system.”

Osmotica receives a milestone payment and royalties based on FDA approval.