Money includes an up-front payment and milestones for Fovea’s three clinical compounds related to eye diseases.

Sanofi-Aventis is purchasing Fovea Pharmaceuticals for €370 million (about $538.72 million), which includes up-front and milestone payments. The deal gives sanofi-aventis three clinical compounds, various discovery programs, and a discovery platform, all related to eye disease.

Sanofi-Aventis’ acquisition of Fovea will help the firm pad its pipeline, as it faces generic competition to its top-selling drug, an anticlotting medication called Plavix, in 2011. Lovenox, which helps reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis, is already being challenged by generics in the U.S.

Since September 2008, sanofi-aventis has spent $3.42 billion in acquisitions and up-front fees for partnering deals. The company committed to pay a further $1.52 billion in research funding and milestones related to the collaborations. This includes a separate licensing deal executed today with Merrimack Pharmaceuticals.

Additionally, the firm shelled out $4 billion to buy out Merck & Co.’s share of the companies’ joint venture related to animal health.

The acquisition of Fovea is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Sanofi-Aventis will gain FOV 1101, an eye drop, fixed-dose combination of prednisolone and cyclosporine, currently in Phase II for persistent allergic conjunctivitis; FOV 2302, an intravitreal formulation of a plasma kallikrein inhibitor, in Phase I trial for retinal vein occlusion induced macular edema; and FOV 2304, a potent antagonist of bradykinin B1 receptor, active by eye drop, scheduled to enter Phase I by November for diabetic macular edema.

Its most advanced preclinical compound is FOV 2501, an intravitreal formulation of RdCVF designed to treat retinitis pigmentosa with potential extension to dry age-related macular degeneration. Fovea acquired exclusive worldwide rights to RdCVF from Novartis with a call-back option to Novartis at the end of Phase II. The product is expected to enter clinical development in 2010.

Fovea’s discovery platform identifies new protein factors and small molecular entities that play a key role in protecting retinal cells from degeneration. In November 2007, Genzyme signed on to leverage the technology and co-develop new therapies based on Fovea’s selected targets and Genzyme’s delivery technologies.

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