Helix BioPharma is selling its Rivex Pharma division to Pharmascience for up to $8.5 million cash, the companies said today. Helix said it will use the proceeds to fund ongoing R&D and other operating activities.

“This transaction will enable Helix to focus our management and financial resources on our cancer therapeutics products, including our ongoing clinical trial with L-DOS47, a drug candidate for treatment of non-small cell lung cancer,” Helix CEO Robert Verhagen said in a statement. “At the same time, the Rivex division will have greater growth potential under a new owner who is better positioned than we are to invest in the drug distribution business and unlock its potential.”

Established in 1995, Helix is a biopharmaceutical focused on developing cancer prevention and treatment drugs. L-DOS47 is Helix’ first drug to be developed using the company’s DOS47 oncology platform technology. It uses the enzyme urease to induce an increase in pH locally at the site of cancerous cells in the body to create an environment inhospitable to their continued growth and survival.

In addition to L-DOS47, Helix’ product pipeline includes Topical Interferon Alpha-2b, the company’s most advanced product in development. Helix is developing Topical Interferon Alpha-2b under license from Merck & Co.’s Schering Corp. division as a treatment for some skin and mucosal lesions caused by human papilloma virus (HPV) infections.

Pharmascience CEO David Goodman added in the statement that acquiring Rivex was part of a diversification and expansion strategy by its Pendopharm-branded drugs division.

Helix said it received “multiple” offers for Rivex during a three-month solicitation process, with Pharmascience offering “the best alternative” based on purchase price, low execution risk, absence of a financing condition, and greater assurance of meeting Helix’s transaction timeline.

Helix will seek shareholder approval for the deal at an annual and special board of directors meeting set for Jan. 24, 2013. If approved by shareholders, Helix said it expects to close on its Rivex acquisition in late January.

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