Bristol-Myers Squibb's proposed $2.5 billion acquisition of hepatitis C specialist Inhibitex is close to being sealed following the expiry of the waiting period for the deal.

The US major said the expiration of the waiting period under Hart-Scott-Rodino antitrust rules satisfies one of the conditions to its $26.00 per share offer, which will expire on Friday (February 10). Inhibitex' lead compound is INX-189, an oral nucleotide polymerase inhibitor which is in Phase II development and has exhibited potent antiviral activity,

FDA lifts restrictions on Idenix HCV trial

Staying with HCV and Idenix Pharmaceuticals announced that it has received notification from the US Food and Drug Administration  that a partial clinical hold has been removed and the company's Phase IIb study evaluating IDX184 in combination with pegylated interferon and ribavirin  may continue.

Ron Renaud, Idenix chief executive, noted the decision was taken after the FDA reviewed interim safety and antiviral activity results from the trial. He added that "we are working toward beginning all-oral combination trials as quickly as possible."

The HCV area is being increasingly seen as a lucrative one and following B-MS' link-up with Inhibitex, Idenix is being seen as a takeover target. However its shares fell despite the good news from the FDA because of new data from rival Gilead Sciences which presented data showing that 100% of genotype 1 HCV patients treated with its rival pill GS-7977 plus ribavirin had no evidence of the virus after four weeks of treatment.

Gilead itself is expanding further in HCV through its $11 billion acquisition of Pharmasset.