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J&J buys stake in Crucell

J&J subsidiary Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, has purchased an 18 per cent stake in Dutch biotechnology company, Crucell NV

US pharmaceutical giant, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), through its subsidiary Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, has purchased an 18 per cent stake in Dutch biotechnology company, Crucell NV. Crucell focuses on the development, production and marketing of vaccines and antibodies against infectious disease worldwide. The strategic collaboration was formed with the intention of developing innovative products, including therapies for influenza prevention and treatment.

J&J has agreed to pay €301.8m for 14.6 million newly issued shares in Leiden-based Crucell. Both companies have agreed to milestones and royalty payments based on the development and commercialisation of products in connection with the collaboration, which will focus initially on the development and commercialisation of a universal monoclonal antibody product (flu-mAb) for the treatment and prevention of influenza. The focus of the long-term innovation collaboration will be on new discovery programmes leading to the development and commercialisation of a universal influenza vaccine, as well as the development of monoclonal antibodies and/or vaccines directed against up to three other infectious and non-infectious disease targets.

Crucell's chief executive officer, Ronald Brus, said of the alliance: "We are delighted that this collaboration with Johnson & Johnson will strengthen and facilitate our efforts to bring innovation to global health. It provides an avenue to accelerate Crucell's existing 'flu-mAb' programme, which has already demonstrated the potential to deliver an antibody product for the prevention and treatment of any type of influenza strain."

The announcement follows news on August 18, 2009 that Crucell had received a US National Institutes of Health (NIH) contract aimed at advancing the development of monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of seasonal and pandemic influenza; a contract which provides funding of up to $40.7m, with additional options worth a further $28.4m that may be triggered at the discretion of the NIH, bringing the potential total award amount to $69.1m. This funding will be used for Crucell's work in the flu-mAb collaboration announced between Crucell and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals to expedite the potential availability of a universal antibody product for the treatment and prevention of influenza in humans.

The transaction is expected to have an estimated dilutive impact of $0.02 to $0.04 on J&J's 2009 adjusted earnings per share. 

Shares of Crucell jumped following the announcement, rising 7.2 per cent to €17.10. Shares have risen more than 55 per cent since the start of 2009.

In January 2009, Crucell pulled out of friendly takeover talks with Wyeth.

28th September 2009

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