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article imageDrug giant Merck buys hepatitis C biotech treatment company

By Tim Sandle     Jun 14, 2014 in Business
Cambridge - The drug giant Merck is to acquire Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Idenix Pharmaceuticals. Idenix is focused on developing treatments for hepatitis C.
In a move costing an estimated $3.85 billion, pharmaceutical company Merck is set to acquire the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based drug development firm Idenix Pharmaceuticals. According to the New York Times, Idenix currently has three drug candidates for hepatitis C in clinical development. These are an NS5A inhibitor and two nucleotide prodrugs.
Hepatitis C is an infectious disease affecting primarily the liver, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Chronic infection can lead to scarring of the liver and ultimately to cirrhosis, which is generally apparent after many years. In some cases, those with cirrhosis will go on to develop liver failure or liver cancer. The virus is spread is spread primarily by blood-to-blood contact associated with intravenous drug use, poorly sterilized medical equipment, and transfusions. Globally, many drug companies are examining and investing in conventional and unconventional treatments.
With the latest business deal, Merck Executive Vice President Roger Perlmutter said in a statement: "Idenix has established a promising portfolio of hepatitis C candidates based on its expertise in nucleoside/nucleotide chemistry and pro-drug technologies. Idenix’s investigational hepatitis C candidates . . . will help advance our work to develop a highly effective, once-daily, all oral, ribavirin-free, pan-genotypic regimen that has a duration of treatment as short as possible."
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