Bristol-Myers Squibb has hit the acquisition trail again and is buying privately held Amira Pharmaceuticals in a deal that could be worth $475 million to the inflammatory and fibrotic diseases specialist.
Under the terms of the agreement, B-MS is shelling out $325 million in an upfront fee and may make additional milestone payments totalling $150 million. Amira's lead product is AM152, an orally-available lysophosphatidic acid 1 receptor antagonist.
The latter is ready to go into Phase IIa studies for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and scleroderma. B-MS is also getting hold of Amira's preclinical autotaxin programme, which it believes may be useful in the treatment of neuropathic pain and cancer metastases.
Elliott Sigal, head of R&D at the New York-based major, claimed that B-MS "has identified fibrotic diseases as an area of high unmet medical need that complements our research efforts in several of our therapeutic areas”. He added that the purchase of the San Diego-based firm "represents the latest example of our String of Pearls strategy, a highly targeted set of transactions designed to enrich our innovative pipeline with potential medicines to help patients in need".
Amira was founded in 2005 after Merck & Co pulled its research activities in San Diego and some of the latter's scientists, including a few who helped develop the asthma blockbuster Singulair (montelukast), set up the company. It has 25 employees who will be retained in San Diego.