Cash will be used for commercialization of IPF drug to build pulmonary pipeline.

InterMune is selling its synthetic gamma interferon-1b drug, Actimmune, to specialty pharmaceuticals firm Vidara Therapeutics for $55 million in cash plus a two-year royalty stream. Actimmune is indicated for the treatment of chronic granulomatous disease and severe, malignant osteopetrosis. The drug achieved revenues of $4.1 million in the first quarter of 2012.

InterMune says that as it stopped looking for additional potential indications for Actimmune a number of years ago, the drug has essentially become something of a tactical financial asset. “The divesture of Actimmune will provide additional capital for InterMune to continue to focus on and invest in the registration and commercialization of Esbriet® in Europe and elsewhere and to continue to advance our R&D program,” comments Dan Welch, president, chairman, and CEO.

InterMune is focused on the development and commercialization of drugs for treating pulmonary and orphan fibrotic diseases, in particular idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Lead drug Esbriet is a small molecule TGF-beta inhibitor approved in Europe for the treatment of IPF. The drug was launched in Germany during the second half of 2011 and is undergoing registrational trials in the U.S.

InterMune originally licensed global rights to Esbriet (except Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea) from Marnac and KDL. Shionogi has a license in the remaining Asian territories. The drug was approved for the IPF indication in Japan in 2008 where it is marketed by Shionogi as Pirespa®.

Net proceeds from the sale of Actimmune to Vidara will be added to the $377.2 million in cash and cash equivalents that InterMune already has. It will be used to support its Vision 2015 strategic plan, Welch adds. This includes achieving successful launch and marketing of Esbriet in the EU, U.S., Canada, and other markets as well as building a balanced R&D pipeline through internal research and business development.

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