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Bitter Ally Buys Bankrupt Immunicon

Veridex, LLC, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, will acquire Immunicon for $31 million in cash. Immunicon filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday; the announcement sent shares tumbling to from $.27 to $.09. Since 2000, Veridex and Immunicon have collaborated in the development and commercialization of cancer diagnostics. Veridex was responsible for all marketing, sales and distribution; revenues were shared, except for reagents for which Immunicon received 30%. In May 2007, Immunicon sought to end this exclusive (20-year) arrangement with Veridex. Immunicon alleged, among other things, that Veridex failed to use its “best efforts” in the marketing of Immunicon products by "squander[ing] the opportunity to promptly and aggressively launch the Immunicon Products in 2004. The American Arbitration Association ultimately decided that Veridex was not in breach of this “best effort” marketing obligation. The assets to be acquired include intellectual property, product inventory and clinical data as well as all technologies related to the CellSearch System. The CellSearch CTC kit was originally cleared in January 2004 to predict progression-free and overall survival in patients with metastatic breast cancer and later expanded to include monitoring. In November 2007, the kit was cleared by the FDA for monitoring metastatic colorectal cancer and in February 2008 it was cleared for monitoring patients with metastatic prostate cancer. Indications include three of the four most prevalent cancers, a combined ≈$1 billion market, according to Immunicon. Ken Berlin, General Manager of Veridex, commented, “This agreement represents a strategic opportunity for Veridex to continue to bring innovative diagnostic tests to the patients, physicians and laboratories involved in the fight against cancer.”

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