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article imageNovartis forms biotech spin-off called Mereo

By Tim Sandle     Aug 2, 2015 in Business
Zurich - The pharmaceutical giant Novartis has established a biotech spin-off company called Mereo. The company will be based in the U.K. and it will work on three bespoke investigational drug products.
The new company — Mereo BioPharma Group Ltd. — is a spin-off from Novartis, meaning that it will receive funding and support from the Swiss giant. In turn, Novartis receives shares in the new company and will therefore share in any success that the new compounds might generate in future sales. In addition to support from Novartis, funding will be sought from other investors. Dr Denise Scots-Knight has been appointed as the chief executive and Dr Peter Fellner as the chairman of the board.
Mereo will focus on developing innovative medicines. These will be orientated towards rare and specialist diseases. Part of the strategy will involve purchasing drugs in the mid-stage of development and then carry them through to final, approved products. This will involve partnership programs with other biotechnology companies.
Examples of products include a trial medication, referred only to by a reference number at this stage: BPS-804, designed improve bone density in brittle bone syndrome. Another product is coded BCT-197 for acute types of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A further candidate is BGS-649, designed for obese men suffering with the condition hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism. This is a condition where the male testes produce little or no sex hormones.
Commenting on the announcement, Dr Denise Scots-Knight told PharmaFile: “We believe that by acquiring quality assets from Novartis and securing substantial financing we have put in place the building blocks to create a successful specialty biopharmaceutical company.”
In related news, Norvatis is close one of its industrial bases in India. Novartis’ Sandoz generics unit will close a plant in Turbhe, Maharashtra, with job losses made by the end of 2017.
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