Swiss giant, Novartis, has bolstered its hepatitis pipeline with the signing of a global deal with Anadys Pharmaceuticals, which gives the Swiss giant the rights to the latter’s chronic hepatitis C product, ANA975, in return for up to $570 million dollars in upfront and potential milestone payments.

As well as obtaining the exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and commercialise ANA975, which is currently undergoing Phase I testing, for HCV, Novartis will also be able to develop the product in additional indications, including hepatitis B.

Under the terms of the agreement, Novartis will make an initial license payment of $20 million to Anadys, with the latter also eligible to receive up to $550 million in potential milestones.

Novartis has also obtained an exclusive option to license additional therapeutics being developed by Anadys for HCV and HBV, and also has the option to in-license Anadys' rights to ANA380, which is in Phase II development for treating chronic HBV. The Swiss company already has two drugs in development, in collaboration with Idenix, for the treatment of chronic HBV – LDT600 (telbivudine) and LDC300 (valtorcitabine) – and has an option to license and collaborate with Idenix in the development and commercialization of other drug candidates in its portfolio, including the direct antiviral hepatitis C compound NM283 (valopicitabine).