Cephalon has a handful of powerful specialty drugs. The company's research, development, manufacturing, and marketing activities focus on therapies for central nervous system (CNS) disorders, cancer, pain, and inflammatory disease. Its NUVIGIL and PROVIGIL drugs treat the sleep disorder narcolepsy. The company's other top sellers are cancer drug TREANDA, cancer pain medications ACTIQ and FENTORA, epilepsy treatment GABITRIL, and muscle relaxant AMRIX. Its eight major products are primarily sold in the US and Europe. Cephalon was acquired by top generic drugmaker Teva Pharmaceutical Industries in 2011.
Teva acquired Cephalon for some $6.8 billion in October 2011. Through the deal, Teva bolstered its brand name drug business with Cephalon's marketed drugs and drugs in late stages of development. Cephalon, which faced the loss of market exclusivity in the US for top-seller PROVIGIL in 2012, gained greater access to international marketing and distribution resources. To receive regulatory approval for the acquisition, however, Teva agreed to divest rights to several products that are generic versions of Cephalon's Actiq, Amrix, and Provigil offerings.
CIMA Labs is Cephalon's drug delivery technology subsidiary. It specializes in disintegrating tablets, transmucosal films, and other ways to get powdered drugs into patients.
Before becoming a member of the global Teva family, Cephalon focused its promotional efforts on the US market, where made about 75% of its annual revenues. It brought Teva a specialty drug sales force in the US market and an international sales representative organization with licensing partners and distributors. Traditionally, wholesale distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen were Cephalon's chief customers and accounted for two-thirds of its sales.
The company's CNS division was built around its biggest seller, PROVIGIL, which comprised about 40% of the company's sales (most of that in the US). The company's other narcolepsy drug, NUVIGIL, was launched as a next-generation version of PROVIGIL in 2009. (The drug was developed with hopes that sales of NUVIGIL would help ward off the effects of generic competition for PROVIGIL in 2012.) It also built up its cancer division, which includes one of its newest products, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma treatment TREANDA.
The company's cancer pain treatments FENTORA/EFFENTORA and ACTIQ are formulations of fentanyl. Because fentanyl is 80 times stronger than morphine and can be highly addictive, there has been some controversy over the drug's use. At the time of its acquisition by Teva, Cephalon was also working to gain FDA approval for use of FENTORA in non-cancer patients with opioid-tolerant chronic pain issues; however, the approval was delayed as the company worked with the FDA on implementing a REMS (risk evaluation and mitigation strategy) program for the candidate.
Like most pharmaceutical companies, Cephalon depended on new products to fight off potential operating losses brought on by patent protection and regulatory hurdles. Prior to its acquisition, the company added to its product line through internal and collaborative research and development efforts. Over the years it held collaborative partnerships with other smaller drug developers. Cephalon purchased a 20% stake in Australian biotech firm Mesoblast in 2010 to collaborate on the development of adult stem cell therapies. The company put up some $370 million to start and agreed to pay up to $1.7 billion in milestone payments if the therapies were developed successfully.
Cephalon also maintained a steady acquisition pace to keep its pipeline flowing. Through acquisitions it brought in a wide variety of drug candidates and new markets. Its 2010 acquisition of Swiss generic drugmaker Mepha was entry into the generics business and doubled the size of its international business. The purchase added branded and nonbranded generic products marketed around the globe. The 2011 $231 million acquisition of Australia's ChemGenex brought in OMAPRO, another leukemia drug candidate nearing commercialization.