Eli Lilly latches onto Bend Research's spray-dried dispersion tech

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Bend Research is becoming the belle of the drug delivery ball.

The company disclosed this week that it has expanded a deal with struggling pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly ($LLY) to include a license of its proprietary spray-dried dispersion technology, as well as access to Bend's other drug delivery technologies. Bend says it has previously supported some of Lilly's preclinical and clinical development programs with various formulation, development, analytical, engineering and manufacturing services. Neither side disclosed financial or project details.

In November, Bend, an OR-based company, signed a similar agreement with Merck ($MRK). Bend also inked a three-year deal with Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) in 2010 to allow BMS to use its drug formulation services, and to produce drugs that company needs for clinical trials.

Bend's tech can help improve how heart disease pills are absorbed into the bloodstream and make them dissolve better in water, according to previous coverage. The company touts its drug-delivery expertise in areas including controlled-release, inhalation and spray-dried dispersion technologies.

Bend and drug delivery companies like it are becoming increasingly important to Big Pharma, as drugmakers face plunging revenue with many of their blockbusters losing patent protection. Considering that they're also struggling to come up with new blockbusters themselves, new drug delivery variations can help give pharmaceutical companies' existing and newer compounds mileage and uniqueness in an increasingly competitive market. Bend CEO Rod Ray ever so slightly touched on the issue in a prepared statement announcing the Lilly deal.

"We believe this collaboration will add significant value to Lilly's research efforts," he said, "and help them advance their compounds more quickly and efficiently."

It's certainly much better news for Lilly than the other item FiercePharma carried this week: Most employees face a salary freeze this year, in part because of competition from generics and the corresponding plunge in revenue.

- here's the Bend Research release

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Merck licenses Bend Research's spray-dried dispersion tech
Lilly hunkers down for lean years with salary freeze