Auxilium Pharmaceuticals has announced plans to merge with Canada-based ophthalmology-focused biotech firm QLT with the aim of expanding Auxilium's corporate platform. Per the agreement, a wholly owned subsidiary of QLT will be merged with and into Auxilium; QLT, now under the name “New Auxilium”, will remain incorporated in British Columbia.

The combined organization will be led by Auxilium's current leadership team and will maintain Auxilium's current offices in Chesterbrook, PA. The merged firm's board will consist of all Auxilium's current directors along with two current directors from QLT. Auxilium adds it is not expecting any material changes to its current U.S. operations or employment; in fact, it expects to grow its presence in both the U.S. and Canada.

The companies also plan to continue pursuing a potential partnering agreement for QLT's retinoid program, which is nearing Phase III development. The synthetic retinoid program, QLT says, is a replacement for 11-cis-retinal being developed to treat retinal diseases caused by gene mutations that interfere with the availability of 11-cis-retinal. Auxilium believes this program will augment its existing orphan drug portfolio and allow the firm to expand its orphan drug reach outside of the U.S. 

“The merger with QLT represents a unique opportunity to accelerate our desired strategic transformation into a leading, diversified North American specialty biopharmaceutical company,” Adrian Adams, Auxilium's president and CEO, said in a statement. “We believe this transaction will facilitate the continued build out of our current portfolio and provide us with the corporate platform and strong financial position to build on our strength in men's healthcare and enable expansion into new specialty therapeutic focus areas.”

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