Bristol-Myers closes on Inhibitex purchase

AP News
Posted: Feb 13, 2012 5:54 PM
Bristol-Myers closes on Inhibitex purchase

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said late Monday that it's completed its $2.5 billion acquisition of Inhibitex Inc., a drug developer that Bristol sought as part of its strategy to become a player in the hot hepatitis C drug market.

Earlier Monday, New York-based Bristol-Myers announced it had finished its tender offer for Inhibitex stock, acquiring about 91 percent of the outstanding shares, or just over 77.5 million shares, through midnight Friday. Bristol-Myers paid $26 each for those shares.

About 4.3 million remaining shares were then acquired by Bristol on Monday under a procedure in which they were converted into the right for their holders to receive $26 per share, minus any withholding taxes.

Inhibitex, based in Alpharetta, Ga., is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Bristol-Myers.

Bristol-Myers shares rose 9 cents to $31.99 during regular trading Monday, then fell a dime in after-hours trading.

Bristol-Myers is an important maker of medicines for viruses, including Baraclude for hepatitis B and several HIV drugs, but has nothing for hepatitis C at a time when more patients need treatment. Over 3 million Americans have the blood-borne, tough-to-treat disease, which can go undetected for many years until the liver is severely damaged. More people will be diagnosed as the baby boomer generation ages.

After a two-decade drought, the first two new hepatitis C drugs were approved last year: Victrelis from Merck & Co. and Incivek, marketed by partners Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. Both significantly improve the cure rate over what has long been the standard of care _ a mix of injections and pills with nasty, flu-like side effects that takes several months and still doesn't cure many patients.

Last month, Bristol-Myers CEO Lamberto Andreotti said his company has four experimental hepatitis C drugs in development that could be a big improvement over the pills-and-shots regimen. The Bristol compounds might also be combined with those of Inhibitex to produce an even more-effective treatment.

Inhibitex has three experimental drugs in midstage human testing, including INX-189, for treating chronic hepatitis C infections. The other two compounds are FV-100, for reducing the pain caused by shingles, and Aurexis, a biologic antibody-based drug for treating dangerous staph infections in the blood.

Inhibitex also has other potential hepatitis C treatments in laboratory testing, and has a proprietary technology that it's licensed to Pfizer Inc. for developing a possible staph vaccine.


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