Alfacell Corporation, maker of the mesothelioma drug Onconase, has entered into discussions to secure a stronger financial future. Oppenheimer and Co. has been listed as the approved financial advisor for Alfacell Corporation as it seeks to increase its value to shareholders. One possible option being discussed is a company sale. According to the company’s president, Lawrence A. Kenyon, “We continue to make progress on the completion of our rolling new drug application (NDA) and have undertaken this project in an effort to accelerate the recognition of the value of ONCONASE as a potential treatment for cancer indications in addition to mesothelioma.” Alfacell is the creator of the mesothelioma drug ONCONASE. This drug has been granted orphan-drug status by the FDA, and its development has been put on the fast track. This drug has also been listed as an orphan drug in the European Union and Australia.
Orphan drugs are those that treat rare and deadly diseases afflicting fewer than 200,000 people, such as mesothelioma. To encourage companies to make these drugs, the United States government passed the Orphan Drug Act in 1983. This gave companies many reasons to research and develop these pharmaceuticals. Incentives provide the companies: tax incentives for their clinical research, the sole rights to make the drug for seven years, and some grant funds made available for clinical testing. Just considering a sale does not mean that the company will be required to follow it through. Any other possible options will not be disclosed to the public unless they are approved by Alfacell’s board of directors.