ASTELLAS, BIOGEN IDEC ENTER INTO AMEVIVE AGREEMENT

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Illinois-based Astellas Pharma U.S. and Biogen Idec, headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., have entered into an agreement in which Astellas will purchase the worldwide rights to Amevive (alefacept), a biologic anti-inflammatory compound used to treat moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. Biogen Idec will continue to manufacture Amevive and supply the product to Astellas. The transaction is likely to be completed in mid-April.

"The acquisition of a well-established product such as Amevive strengthens our North American dermatology franchise and provides Astellas an opportunity to continue offering physicians this effective option for the treatment of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis," said William Fitzsimmons, senior vice president of business development at Astellas.

Amevive, which was approved by the U.S. FDA in January 2003, is a 12-dose therapy injected by a physician once a week. It targets chronic plaque psoriasis, an autoimmune skin disease that can develop anywhere on the skin -- particularly the scalp, knees, elbows and trunk.