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Protalix Shares Fall Following Pfizer Deal

NEW YORK (AP) ¿ Shares of Protalix BioTherapeutics Inc. fell Tuesday as a newly announced licensing deal with Pfizer Inc. appeared to dispel hopes of a buyout.

Investors had been hoping Pfizer would make a move to buy Protalix. Instead, on Tuesday New York-based Pfizer licensed rights to a developing Gaucher's disease treatment, prompting a $60 million payment to Protalix.

"There were some expectations that it (Protalix) would be outright acquired," said Oppenheimer & Co. analyst Dr. Brian Abrahams. "But aspects of the collaboration itself are quite positive."

Protalix shares sank $1.09, or 11.1 percent, to $8.77 in afternoon trading. The stock has ranged from 96 cents to $12.50 over the past year.

Under the deal, New York-based Pfizer will gain worldwide licensing rights to Protalix's taliglucerase alfa, or Uplyso, while Protalix retains exclusive commercialization rights in Israel, where the company is based.

Taliglucerase alfa is an enzyme replacement therapy which has been designated an orphan drug by the Food and Drug Administration. Orphan drug status is given to drugs aimed at rare conditions or conditions that have a lack of treatments on the market. Incentives include seven years of market exclusivity following FDA approval, assistance in clinical trial design, a reduction in user fees, and tax credits.

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