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Bristol-Myers Squibb completes $2.5bn acquisition of Inhibitex

Deal with US biopharmaceutical company boosts its presence in hepatitis C

Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) has acquired clinical stage biopharmaceutical company Inhibitex in a deal that boosts its presence in hepatitis C.

Inhibitex's lead compound is the oral nucleotide polymerase (NS5B) inhibitor INX-189, which is in phase II trials in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin for chronic hepatitis C.

The deal, which cost BMS approximately $2.5bn, is the latest phase in the pharma company's much-touted 'string of pearls' approach to drug development.

This relies on complementing internal R&D with a suite of alliances, partnerships and acquisitions in its core therapeutic areas and Georgia, US-based Inhibitex is the newest 'pearl' in the string of more than a dozen deals BMS has made since 2007

BMS has been signing a series of agreement in an attempt to combine its own hepatitis C drug candidates - led by NS5A replication complex inhibitor daclatasvir (BMS-790052) in phase III - with compounds in development at other companies.

The overall aim is to develop all-oral treatment regimens that could replace the current therapies based on injectable interferon alpha.

Analysts have predicted multibillion dollar sales for a number of oral hepatitis C therapies coming through pharma company pipelines, and the sector has been invigorated recently by approvals for new oral therapies.

These include Merck & Co's Victrelis (boceprevir) and J&J, Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Mitsubishi Tanabe's Incivek/Incivo (telaprevir).

In December 2011 BMS forged an alliance with Johnson & Johnson's Tibotec unit for the development of an all-oral combination therapy based on daclatasvir and Tibotec's NS3 protease inhibitor TMC435. Phase II trials of the regimen are due to start later this year.

14th February 2012

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