For years, Belleville, Ontario’s Bioniche Life Sciences (TSX:BNC) was better known to your veterinarian than your doctor. Bioniche, which formed in 1979 to develop veterinary bio pharmaceutical products, received worldwide attention two years ago when it received a Canadian license for Econiche, the world’s first cattle vaccine against E. coli.
Sales of Bioniche veterinary products such as FOLLTROPIN-V, used for the induction of superovulation in reproductively mature heifers and cows, and SETTLE®, a endometritis therapy for broodmares helped establish the company as a public entity that has grown from $27 million in revenue in 2007 to more than $45 million in fiscal 2010.
Bioniche’s animal health products sales have been slipping of late, but many investors aren’t too worried. As it turns out, the company’s move into human health may be much more lucrative.
In the early 90’s Bioniche established a human health division, and the results of this venture are now, finally, paying off. Since late 2009 shares of Bioniche have rallied from just over $.40 cents to a recent high of $1.80 on October 15th. The reason? Urocidin. Urocidin is a product Bioniche has developed to treat non-muscle-invasive bladder cancer that doesn’t respond to current first-line therapy.
On November 17th, Bioniche received a $4.0-million (U.S.) milestone payment from its development partner, Endo Pharmaceuticals Inc. This milestone is the fourth achieved by Bioniche since they signed the agreement with Endo last summer. That’s on top of an upfront payment of $20-million. if Bioniche hits all its Urocidin clinical milestones it would receive a total of $110-million (U.S.)
Bladder cancer, which sees 70,000 patients diagnosed each year In North America alone, is the fifth most common type of cancer. Approximately 70 per cent of bladder cancer patients have the non-muscle-invasive form of bladder cancer.