A month ago, Protalix Biotherapeutics reached an agreement with the world's largest-selling pharmaceutical firm, Pfizer, to supply a drug for treating Gaucher's disease to an unnamed Latin American country. The deal was originally worth about $30 million, and the medicine is based on the enzyme taliglucerase alfa, known as Uplyso, developed by Protalix.
But on Tuesday the media reported the country was Brazil - and the real news was that Brazil signed a deal worth $730 million with Pfizer and Protalix for the drug. Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao was quoted as saying the new deal was a transfer of technology for the country to produce the drug itself for five years in a new factory in Rio De Janeiro. The $730 million would be the total investment by Brazil for the production of the drug and not only the amount going to Protalix and Pfizer.
The share gained 7.7% on the Amex on Wednesday, but fell back 2.9% yesterday. Protalix is also listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, which was closed yesterday and Wednesday for the Simhat Torah holiday.
Protalix said it was in contact with the government of Brazil to supply the Gaucher's drug, but no deal had yet been reached. The company said it would report any such deal as required if and when it was reached.
Temporao explained the $730 million in the deal was the equivalent of what Brazil's health care system would have paid for treating Gaucher's patients over the five-year period, and ultimately would save money and provide Brazil with new technology.
Gaucher's disease is a genetic disorder in which a fatty substances accumulate in cells and certain organs and is usually caused by a lack of an enzyme or problems with enzyme production. The disease is relatively common in Ashkenazi Jews.
Protalix focuses on the development and commercialization of recombinant therapeutic proteins based on its ProCellex proprietary protein expression system, which the firm says is 90% cheaper than present technologies.
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