Cell Therapeutics has agreed to sell Trisenox, a drug for a rare form of leukemia, to Cephalon for $70 million in cash.

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Cell Therapeutics has agreed to sell Trisenox, a drug for a rare form of leukemia, to Cephalon for $70 million in cash.

But the Seattle biotech company said it will receive only about $30 million from the transaction, because it is required to pay the rest to PharmaBio Development, which had secured some future rights to the drug in December.

Cephalon will take over sales, marketing and development of the drug, and will offer jobs to between 20 and 40 employees of Cell Therapeutics who work on Trisenox, said Susan Callahan, a spokeswoman for Cell Therapeutics. Cephalon, which is based in Frazer, Penn., will pay royalties on future worldwide sales of Trisenox.

Cell Therapeutics disclosed last week that it is cutting 75 jobs in Seattle to conserve cash, after its leading drug candidate, Xyotax, failed in a pivotal trial this spring. Through that layoff and the sale of Trisenox, the company has shed 130 jobs, Callahan said. That leaves it with about 270 employees in the U.S. and Europe.

The company’s strategy is to file for FDA approval of Xyotax for lung cancer.

Trisenox, first approved by the FDA in 2000, had sales of $26.6 million in 2004. In the past, the company has said it expected the drug to reach $100 million or more a year in sales.

Its first-quarter sales were $6.0 million, up 54 percent from the same period in 2004.

Luke Timmerman: 206-515-5644 or ltimmerman@seattletimes.com