Florida drug firm Nabi relocates to Rockville

BUSINESS DIGEST

December 05, 2007|By M. William Salganik | M. William Salganik,Sun reporter

Nabi Biopharmaceuticals officially moved its headquarters yesterday to Rockville, where it has maintained a research facility, after selling its previous location in Florida, along with its largest division.

Nabi will now focus on new products in development, including NicVAX, a vaccine for smoking cessation.

The reshaped Nabi has about 50 employees, who will remain in Rockville. It will add 15 people to perform functions, such as accounting and human resources, that had been done in Florida, according to Greg Fries, manager of investor relations and corporate communications. He said a strategic review over the past year or more led to the decision to split the company into two divisions, then to sell one.

NicVAX has completed midstage trials, with positive results reported last month. In those trials, 16 percent of the NicVAX patients abstained from smoking after a year, compared with 6 percent of patients given a placebo.

Fries said Nabi is designing late-stage trials and seeking a "strategic partner" to help in developing and marketing NicVAX, which is designed to stimulate production of antibodies that will bind to nicotine, blocking it from reaching pleasure receptors in the brain.

It is also seeking a partner to help develop StaphVAX, which is in the preclinical stage and is intended to prevent infections.

Yesterday marked the closing of the deal for what had been Nabi's biologics division and its headquarters facility. Biotest Pharmaceuticals Corp., a newly created subsidiary of Germany-based Biotest AG, is paying $185 million. It also is taking on about 500 employees in Florida and at nine facilities around the country where donors are paid for blood plasma used to develop and produce products.

The biologics division, now owned by Biotest, was responsible for all of Nabi's $20.1 million in revenue in the third quarter and produced what had been Nabi's major product on the market, Nabi-HB, a hepatitis B preventative.

The remaining, Rockville-based Nabi has potential for up to $75 million in revenue over 10 years from royalties on the sales of PhosLo, a product it developed and sold. PhosLo reduces excess blood phosphorus.

bill.salganik@baltsun.com

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