Bristol-Myers Squibb has completed the acquisition of US pharmaceutical company Amira, adding to its stable of drugs for inflammatory and fibrotic diseases.
BMS announced its intention to buy Amira back in July in a deal involving $325 million in upfront fees and additional milestone payments of $150 million, depending on the progress of Amira's pipeline.
Amira's lead product is AM152, an orally-available lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor antagonist that is about to enter Phase II development as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and scleroderma.
There are currently no approved treatments in the USA for pulmonary fibrosis, which is characterised by the formation of excessive fibrous connective tissue in the lungs and can occur after exposure to environmental contaminants.
The disease kills around 40,000 people in the USA every year, and arguably came to public attention because of its high incidence among first responders to the 9/11 terrorist attacks 10 years ago.
In Europe there is one approved treatment - Intermune's Esbriet (pirfenidone) - but this was turned down by the US Food and Drug Administration in May 2010 on the grounds that another Phase III clinical trial was needed to show a "meaningful effect" on lung function.
While the number of IPF patients is relatively small, the severity of the disease and lack of approved treatments means that a new entrant could command premium pricing. Meanwhile, in addition to AM152, BMS also gains rights to Amira's preclinical autotaxin program, which may be useful in the treatment of neuropathic pain and cancer metastases.
Amira's shareholders have been able to retain two other drug programmes. One targets 5-lipoxygenase-activating protein (FLAP) and has potential in inflammatory disease and is partnered with GlaxoSmithKline, while the other targets DP2 and has potential in asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and allergic rhinitis.
These will be folded into two new companies, with the FLAP programme taken over by an entity called Panmira, according to an Xconomy report. A name for the DP2 company has yet to be established, but it will take over two oral DP2 antagonists (formerly known as AM211 and AM461) that have advanced into early-stage clinical testing.