Breast cancer treatment Soltamox — a liquid version of Tamoxifen — now belongs to
DARA BioSciences (Nasdaq: DARA) as the clinical-stage pharmaceutical company acquires the product in a move that positions the company to sell and develop products for the lucrative cancer drug market.

The U.S. rights to Soltamax come to DARA via the acquisition South Carolina-based pharmaceutical company Oncogenerix in a stock deal paying Oncogenerix more than 1.1 million in DARA shares.

At $1.50 per share, that puts the price at more than $1.6 million. Under the merger agreement, Oncogenerix stockholders could receive an additional 1.1 million shares if DARA is able to hit certain financial milestones in the next five years.

With the deal, Oncogenerix CEO Christopher Clement joins DARA as a director and chief operating officer.

DARA’s own drug pipeline has not yet produced any commercialized products. So far, two DARA compounds have advanced into clinical trials, one of which would be used for cancer patients. KRN5500 is in phase 2 clinical trials as an experimental treatment for neuropathic pain caused by chemotherapy. That compound has fast track status from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its clinical work is being funded by the National Cancer Institute. Another compound, DB959, is ready to advance into phase 2 clinical trials as a potential type 2 diabetes drug.

Soltamox becomes the first revenue-generating product for Raleigh-based DARA. Oncogenerix licensed U.S. Soltamox rights from Rosemont Pharmaceuticals. Oncogenerix had also been doing work on additional liquid formulations, including sterile injectable cytotoxic generic drugs used in cancer treatment. The company’s website says that many blockbuster cytotoxics with sales exceeding $1 billion are losing patent protection. The company planned to develop and distribute generic versions of those blockbuster drugs. DARA saw the potential and pounced on the opportunity.

“We believe there is considerable upside potential in the markets for oral liquid formulations of other FDA approved products as well as sterile injectable cytotoxics,” DARA CEO David Drutz said in a statement. “We also believe Chris and his talented team will prove to be excellent additions to DARA and important contributors to our growth as a company.”

In focusing on oral liquid drugs, DARA is targeting the patient population that either has difficulty swallowing pills or prefer liquid medicines. Soltamox is used primarily for chronic treatment of breast cancer or for cancer prevention in certain patients.

DARA said that the acquisition gives the company the opportunity to participate in multiple segments of the estimated $48 billion cancer market. The company plans to commercialize its products in the United States and abroad.

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