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article imageRoche invests $3.8 billion in biotech start-up

By Tim Sandle     Aug 30, 2014 in Business
Bern - The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche is set to pay $3.8 billion for InterMune, a Brisbane, California-based biotech with one key product: a treatment for a fatal lung disease.
The U.S. company InterMune specializes in a product called Pirfenidone. According to the BBC, this is a treatment for a fatal lung disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The drug was approved for sale in Canada in 2011 and in Europe the following year.
Whilst InterMune awaits approval for pirfenidone from the U.S. Drug and Food Administration (FDA), Roche has stepped in with a multi-billion offer. According to Chemical & Engineering News, Howard Liang, a stock analyst with Leerink Partners said that sales of pirfenidone will likely reach $1.6 billion in 2020.
Laing states: "Acquiring InterMune is recognition of the potential to develop a fibrosis franchise with pirfenidone as a starting point,” Liang said. “[The Roche acquisition] represents a favorable ending of the InterMune story, which has endured an arduous road in pioneering the development of the first approved treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis."
In related news, in August 2014 Digital Journal reported that Roche had spent $450 million on a Danish biotech company that develops drugs that silence microRNAs (something considered key to tackling certain diseases). Roche have long been interested in genetic technologies. Earlier this year the company purchased Seragon Pharmaceuticals for $1.725 billion. To add to this, in 2009, Roche acquired Genentech for $46.8 billion.
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