Roche is to buy hepatitis C therapeutics firm Anadys Pharmaceuticals in a cash deal worth a total of $230 million. Roche says it will immediately initiate a tender offer to buy all the outstanding shares of Anadys’ common stock at $3.70 per share, which represents a 256% premium to the latter’s closing price as the markets closed before the weekend. Anadys’ directors and management have already agreed to tender their shares, which amount to about 7.9% of the firm.
The merger announcement comes within just a couple of days of Anadys reported positive interim data from a Phase IIb study evaluating its lead direct acting hepatitis C therapeutic candidate, setrobuvir, in combination with Roche’s pegylated interferon (Pegasys) and ribavirin (Copegus), in genotype 1 hepatitis C patients. Setrobuvir is a non-nucleosidase HCV RNA polymerase inhibitor. Data from the 283-patient Phase IIb study showed that 78% of treatment-naïve patients and 76% of patients who had responded inadequately to or relapsed after treatment with PEGinterferon and ribavirin (P/R) therapy had undectable virus at week 12 (cEVR) when treated with setrobuvir plus P/R. This compared with 56% and 44%, respectively, for patients who received placebo plus P/R.
In addition, 71% of treatment-naïve patients who received setrobuvir plus P/R had undetectable virus at week eight and met the initial response-guided criteria for shortening treatment duration in the study to 28 weeks from the 48 weeks required for treatment with P/R alone. Twenty-nine percent and 36% of patients classified as null responders to prior P/R therapy achieved cEVR with setrobuvir plus P/R at weeks 12 and 18 respectively.
Anadys’ second, Phase I-stage clinical candidate, ANA773, is an oral Toll-Like Receptor-7 (TLR-7) agonist prodrug designed to stimulate the patient's own immune system to hepatitis C infected cells from producing more virus particles. Phase II trials have been in preparation to evaluate the drug in combination with Ribavirin. Anadys had separately carried out a Phase I trial to study ANA773 in patients with advanced cancer. The firm says although it believes the drug has potential utility in cancer, it was to focus on developing ANA773 for the treatment of HCV.