Merck and Idenix Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of medicines for the treatment of human viral diseases, have entered into a definitive agreement under which Merck will acquire Idenix for $24.50 per share in cash. The transaction, which values the purchase of Idenix at approximately $3.85 billion, has been approved by the boards of directors of both companies.
Idenix's primary focus is on the development of next-generation oral antiviral therapeutics to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The company currently has three HCV drug candidates in clinical development: two nucleotide prodrugs (IDX21437 and IDX21459) and a NS5A inhibitor (samatasvir). These new candidates are being evaluated for their potential inclusion in the development of all oral, pan-genotypic fixed-dose combination regimens.
Merck’s research and development portfolio includes several HCV medicines in development, of which is a combination of MK-5172, an investigational HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor and MK-8742, an investigational HCV NS5A replication complex inhibitor. The combination of these two investigational candidates has received breakthrough therapy designation from FDA for the treatment of HCV. In April 2014, Merck announced initiation of Phase 3 clinical trials for MK-5172/MK-8742 to evaluate the combination with and without ribavirin in various genotypes and across a range of patient populations with chronic HCV.