VANCOUVER—Cardiome Pharma Corp. announced late last month that it completed its acquisition of Artesian Therapeutics Inc., a privately-held U.S. biopharmaceutical company, headquartered in Gaithersburg, Md. Artesian was founded in March of 2002 to discover and develop bi-functional small-molecule drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. Artesian currently has two advanced small-molecule discovery programs in the area of congestive heart failure.
Under the terms of the acquisition, payments to Artesian shareholders are contingent on the achievement of certain pre-defined clinical milestones. The milestone payments will equal, in the aggregate, $32 million for each of the first two drug candidates from the Artesian programs that reach NDA approval. The first such milestone is due upon initiation of the clinical development of an Artesian drug candidate. Concurrent with closing of the acquisition, Cardiome closed, by way of a private placement, 1,036,098 Special Warrants at a price of approximately $7.24 per Special Warrant. This represents a 5 percent premium over the five-day average closing price of the common shares of Cardiome on the NASDAQ Stock Market prior to the execution of the letter of intent to acquire Artesian issued in August. The Special Warrants were issued to Oxford Bioscience Partners, a life science venture capital firm and Artesian's largest shareholder.
Artesian's lead program is focused on a series of dual-pharmacophore compounds designed to simultaneously inhibit the cardiac phosphodiesterase enzyme (PDE3), causing inotropic effects, while inhibiting the L-Type Calcium channel to protect against calcium overload. Artesian's second program focuses on a novel strategy to attenuate the deleterious effects of the excessive neurohormonal activation which occurs in congestive heart failure.
"This acquisition reflects Cardiome's objective of expanding our product pipeline in the cardiology arena." says Bob Rieder, president and CEO of Cardiome.