Private UK drug firm Archimedes raises £65 million

The money, which will be used to launch its nasal spray for cancer pain PecFent, came from Novo A/S and the company’s major current backer, private equity firm Warburg Pincus [WP.UL], which last year was seeking a buyer for the company, according to a person familiar with the matter. [ID:nL137515]

New Chief Executive Jeffrey Buchalter said the investment led by Novo, the majority shareholder in Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk (NOVOb.CO), and including Warburg Pincus, was a vote of confidence in the multi-million dollar potential of PecFent.

“I think Warburg looked at all their strategic options — commercialising the assets themselves as well as looking at divesting it, as you normally do as an investor — and determined the value creation by doing it themselves was far better than divesting it,” he said in an interview.

PecFent, which uses the opiate fentanyl to treat sudden bouts of pain in cancer sufferers, had been filed for approval in Europe and the United States, and Archimedes is expecting approved in the next 12 months.

“We hope the drug will be approved for breakthrough cancer pain,” Buchalter said. “We think PecFent will be ideal for that indication, and that’s several hundred million dollars if we are successful.”

Buchalter, who was formerly president and CEO of U.S.-based Enzon (ENZN.O), said the funding would also be used to establish Archimedes’s operations in the United States and expand its business in Europe. (By Paul Sandle. Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by David Holmes and Rupert Winchester) ($1=.6713 Pound)