Optimer to Market Dificid Drug With Cubist Pharmaceuticals

Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc. said it will co-market its fidaxomicin drug with Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. after winning U.S. panel backing for the antibiotic that fights a deadly bacterium often caught in hospitals.

Fidaxomicin, to be sold as Dificid, may be approved May 30 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and become San Diego-based Optimer’s first product.

Fidaxomicin was developed to treat Clostridium difficile, a hard-to treat strain of bacteria that causes intestinal infections and is often contracted in hospitals. Optimer will pay Cubist $15 million a year, starting with the first sales of Dificid. Cubist may earn up to $17.5 million over the two years if certain sales levels are reached, the companies said today in a statement.

“Cubist has a proven track record and well established relations with all stakeholders involved in the antibiotics space,” Pedro Lichtinger, Optimer’s president and chief executive officer, said in the statement.

Cubist, based in Lexington, Massachusetts, sells as its only product the antibiotic Cubicin, which is taken by injection to treat skin and blood infections and was approved in 2003. It had U.S. sales last year of $600 million.

Cubist said in January it would boost its sales force to 180 to market Cubicin to hospitals. Optimer plans to hire 100 sales representatives to promote Dificid to the 1,100 hospitals that get 70 percent of C. difficile cases, the companies said in the statement.

Optimer fell 81 cents, or 5.9 percent, to $12.99 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading. Cubist gained $1.28 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $30.29 after announcing April 5 it had settled a patent dispute with Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd.

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