American pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb has agreed the purchase of US biotech company Inhibitex, in a $2.5Bn (£1.6bn) deal which includes the promising new anti-hepatitis C drug INX-189, first designed and prepared in Cardiff University.
The buy-out means Bristol-Myers will continue the development of INX-189, created by Professor Chris McGuigan at the Welsh School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
According to the World Health Organisation, around 170m people carry the Hepatitis C virus worldwide and more than 350,000 die from related illnesses every year. INX-189 is currently in Phase II trials and has shown potent anti-viral activity and a high barrier to resistance.
Professor McGuigan said: "At this drug's current highly promising stage, Bristol-Myers Squibb is the ideal partner for quick progression to clinical approval. They are a significant player in global pharmaceuticals and have great expertise in realising the potential of candidate antiviral drugs. This purchase is highly significant for Cardiff University, which stands to benefit financially at each stage of the drug's progress. More importantly, it will add impetus to our efforts to complete the trials of this drug, potentially offering hope to hundreds of thousands of sufferers from this terrible disease around the world."
Sir Chris Evans, Chairman of Excalibur Group and Chairman of the Welsh Government's Life Sciences Sector Panel, commented "The successful clinical development of drug INX-189 and the £1.6bn sale of Inhibitex to BMS is a remarkable achievement for Professor Chris McGuigan and a fantastic piece of commercialisation in anyone's book. The fact that Cardiff's own Professor Chris McGuigan created INX-189 which launched Inhibitex onto the global scene three years ago demonstrates the enormous potential value of the Welsh Life Sciences sector. I am delighted that Professor McGuigan is a member of my Panel as we have known each other for nearly 20 years and his experience in this industry is invaluable to Wales as we develop our Life Sciences Sector."
Lamberto Andreotti, Chief Executive Officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb, said: "The acquisition of Inhibitex builds on Bristol-Myers Squibb's long history of discovering, developing and delivering innovative new medicines in virology and enriches our portfolio of investigative medicines for Hepatitis C. There is significant unmet medical need in Hepatitis C. this acquisition represents an important investment in the long-term growth of the company."
Russell Plumb, President and Chief Executive Officer of Inhibitex, said: "This transaction puts INX-189 and the Company's other infectious disease assets in the hands of an organisation that can more optimally develop them and which believes as strongly as we do in INX-189's potential in the treatment of chronic HCV. Bristol-Myers expertise in antiviral drug development, and its existing complementary portfolio, will assure that the potential of INX-189 is realised as part of future oral combination therapies for millions of patients in need around the world."
For further information please contact:
Professor Chris McGuigan,
Welsh School of Pharmacy,
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain's leading teaching and research universities and is a member of the Russell Group of the UK's most research intensive universities. Among its academic staff are two Nobel Laureates, including the winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for Medicine, University President Professor Sir Martin Evans.
Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University's breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning. Three major new Research Institutes, offering radical new approaches to neurosciences and mental health, cancer stem cells and sustainable places were announced by the University in 2010.