|Cancer Genetics Announces Partnership With AstraZeneca to Provide Biomarker & Molecular Based Testing; Merck to Acquire Idenix|
|By Mary Davila|
|Monday, 09 June 2014 20:01|
Cancer Genetics, Inc. (Nasdaq:CGIX), an emerging leader in DNA-based cancer diagnostics, has been selected by AstraZeneca CAMCAR, S.A., a division of multinational pharmaceutical and biologics company AstraZeneca, serving Central American and Caribbean countries, to provide biomarker-based diagnostic testing for cancer. Under the terms of the agreement, CGI will perform complex testing for diagnosis and prognosis of cancer patients in Central America and the Caribbean. CGI will work in close conjunction with AZ-CAMCAR on exploring expansion opportunities into additional geographic territories, further oncology categories, and into select oncology trials.
"We chose to partner with Cancer Genetics in this endeavor because of their experience in biomarker-based diagnostic testing and their commitment to delivering timely and accurate results to healthcare professionals and patients," said Rodrigo Fernandez, Country President of AstraZeneca CAMCAR, S.A.
"Partnering with AstraZeneca further strengthens our ability to touch the lives of patients globally," said Panna Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Genetics, Inc. "We believe our ability to provide accurate, state-of-the-art biomarker-based testing was a key factor in AstraZeneca's decision to partner with us, and serves as a testament to the growing global awareness of the value of our brand. We are committed to positively impacting cancer care globally, and this relationship serves as another major milestone in fulfilling that mission."
The relationship is expected to concentrate on multiple cancer categories, with lung cancer being an initial area of focus. According to the Pan American Health Organization ("PAHO"), lung cancer is the third most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer deaths in the Americas, with more than 300,000 new cases and nearly 250,000 deaths each year. PAHO expects the number of new cases and deaths from lung cancer to double in Latin America by 2030.
Merck (NYSE:MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: IDIX), today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Merck will acquire Idenix for $24.50 per share in cash. The transaction, which values the purchase of Idenix at approximately $3.85 billion, has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies.
“Idenix has established a promising portfolio of hepatitis C candidates based on its expertise in nucleoside/nucleotide chemistry and prodrug technologies,” said Dr. Roger Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “Idenix’s investigational hepatitis C candidates complement our promising therapies in development and will help advance our work to develop a highly effective, once-daily, all oral, ribavirin-free, pan-genotypic regimen that has a duration of treatment as short as possible for millions of patients in need around the world.”
Idenix is a biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery and development of medicines for the treatment of human viral diseases, whose primary focus is on the development of next-generation oral antiviral therapeutics to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The company currently has three HCV drug candidates in clinical development: two nucleotide prodrugs (IDX21437 and IDX21459) and a NS5A inhibitor (samatasvir). These novel candidates are being evaluated for their potential inclusion in the development of all oral, pan-genotypic fixed-dose combination regimens.
“Merck has established a strong legacy of leadership and innovation in treating hepatitis C,” said Ron Renaud, Idenix’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “This agreement creates shareholder value by positioning Idenix’s strong portfolio of candidates for future success with a leading healthcare company with the experience and commitment to develop fixed-dosed combinations with the potential to impact the global burden of hepatitis C.”
Merck’s research and development portfolio includes several HCV medicines in development, the leading of which is a combination of MK-5172, an investigational HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor and MK-8742, an investigational HCV NS5A replication complex inhibitor. The combination of these two investigational candidates has received Breakthrough Therapy designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of HCV. In April 2014, Merck announced initiation of Phase 3 clinical trials for MK-5172/MK-8742 to evaluate the combination with and without ribavirin in various genotypes and across a broad range of patient populations with chronic HCV. Study information can be found at www.clinicaltrials.gov.
Under the terms of the agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Idenix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the tender of shares representing at least a majority of the total number of Idenix’s outstanding shares (assuming the exercise of all options), the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions. Upon the completion of the tender offer, Merck will acquire all remaining shares through a second-step merger. The companies expect the transaction to close in the third quarter of 2014.
Credit Suisse acted as financial advisor to Merck in this transaction and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP as its legal advisor. Centerview Partners acted as financial advisor to Idenix and Sullivan & Cromwell as its legal advisor.
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