Bristol-Myers Squibb has signed an option agreement to acquire Galecto Biotech of Denmark and get access to its early-stage investigational idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis treatment.

The deal could be worth up to $444 million to the Copenhagen-headquarted company. The compound in question, TD139, is an inhalable galectin-3 inhibitor and is in Phase I for IPF and other pulmonary fibrotic conditions.

Under the terms of the agreement, B-MS can exercise the option to buy Galecto no later than 60 days after the completion of the Phase Ib trial. The US major noted that the total aggregate payment includes clinical and regulatory milestones.

B-MS said the purchase of Galecto would boost its portfolio of fibrosis treatments, which includes BMS-986020, a lysophosphatidic acid 1 (LPA1) receptor antagonist in development for IPF.

IPF has been much in the news of late given that last month Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev (nintedanib) and Roche’s Esbriet (pirfenidone) were simultaneously approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Tiered pricing for HCV drug in poor countries

Meantime, B-MS has unveiled a tiered-pricing model for the world’s poorest countries for its hepatitis C drug Daklinza (daclatasvir).

Following in the footsteps of Gilead Sciences and its HCV blockbuster Sovaldi (sofosbuvir), B-MS says it has initiated discussions with governments and other stakeholders in a number of developing countries to facilitate access to Daklinza. The model will take “into consideration several factors, including countries’ economic development and burden of disease, as well as the commitment of the government to holistically address HCV”.

B-MS noted that the lowest pricing tier will apply to all low-income and least developed countries and in 90 countries it will work with generic manufacturers to supply licensed versions of Daklinza.

MSF criticises move

Nevertheless, the move was criticised by Médecins Sans Frontières, which claimed that in middle-income countries, “those where both 75% of the world's poor and over 70% of people with HCV live, will be largely excluded”.  

Rohit Malpani, director of policy and analysis for MSF’s access campaign, said that “unfortunately, history seems to be repeating itself with B-MS, who haven't learnt from the company's poor track record responding to the HIV epidemic”.

He argued that “it is disappointing that B-MS is choosing to lock out millions of people from gaining affordable access to daclatasvir, and will not commit to registering the drug in all countries that have a HCV burden, even those that do not represent a commercial opportunity for B-MS”.