Give them a C

Medivir acquires preclinical antiviral programs from Novadex, including hepatitis C and prodrug technologies

Jeffrey Bouley
STOCKHOLM, Sweden—Medivir AB announced in early Septemberthat it has acquired preclinical research-stage assets from fellow Swedishcompany Novadex Pharmaceuticals AB that include intellectual property andprodrug technologies—with an eye toward further strengthening Medivir'shepatitis C platform, know-how and market position.
 
 
Noting that Medivir was "very pleased" to make the additionsto its research and development portfolio and further strengthen its pipelineand capabilities in the antiviral disease area, Medivir's executive vicepresident of R&D, Charlotte Edenius, notes, "there are several synergieswith the Medivir antiviral projects and prodrug approaches which we aim toexplore."
 
 
The acquisition deal included both an upfront payment andfuture potential milestone payments, but the specific value of the transactionwas not disclosed.
 
 
The acquired portfolio includes novel nucleotide polymeraseinhibitors, as well as prodrug technologies that Medivir anticipates could beapplied to both protease inhibitors and nucleoside analogues to enhance theiroverall pharmacokinetic properties.
 
 
Medivir already has what it touts as "world-class expertisein polymerase and protease drug targets and drug development which has resultedin a strong infectious disease R&D portfolio," and has given the companyits key pipeline asset, simeprevir (TMC435), a novel protease inhibitor inPhase III clinical development for hepatitis C that is being developed incollaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
 
 
Noting the deal under which Janssen and Medivir arecollaborating, which includes testing TMC435 in combination with Bristol-MyersSquibb Co.'s (BMS) NS5A inhibitor daclatasvir (BMS790052)—a collaboration thatwas extended in April—the In-Vivo Blog speculated in a Sept. 7 post that themove to acquire the hepatitis C from Novadex might in part be to capitalize on"recent stumbles" by various companies in the hepatitis C drug developmentspace, BMS among them.
 
 
Medivir, which has some 180 employees, describes itself as"an emerging research-based pharmaceutical company focused on infectiousdiseases," though it's been around a fair while and had its initial publicoffering of stock in 1996. In June 2011, Medivir acquired the specialtypharmaceutical company BioPhausia, which helped it develop a broad productportfolio of prescription pharmaceuticals in the Nordic region. Medivir's firstproduct, the cold sore product Xerese/Xerclear, was launched in collaborationwith GlaxoSmithKline to be sold over the counter under the brand name ZoviDuoin Europe, Japan and Russia.
 
 
Interestingly, the news of the deal with Medivir is the onlynews posted on Novadex's website, aside from a brief news note about launchingthe website in September 2009. Novadex's site described the company's researchas mainly being in the preclinical stage, but adds, "Based on the in-houseexpertise and through collaborations, we encompass all competences necessaryfor our preclinical projects, which enables us to advance our research in aprofessional and competitive manner. Our strength rests on our employees'lengthy experience in drug discovery and related disciplines, our innovativeculture and collaboration network."
 
 
Novadex notes that its portfolio consists of three projects,which it feels have made "substantial progress" and have "solid patentposition," and adds that two of the projects are related to novel prodrugmethodologies.

Jeffrey Bouley

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