In pact with Oncolys, Bristol-Myers Squibb snags rights to investigational HIV compound

NEW YORK and TOKYO — Bristol-Myers Squibb has signed a definitive licensing pact with Oncolys BioPharma, a privately held Japanese biotech company, that will give it control of a promising new HIV treatment.

Under terms of the agreement, Bristol-Myers Squibb will acquire exclusive worldwide rights to manufacture, develop and market festinavir, a once-a-day, orally available nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor in phase-2 development for HIV. The deal could provide as much as $286 million in upfront, development, regulatory and sales milestone payments to Oncolys, as well as potential royalties on worldwide sales of festinavir.

“Bristol-Myers Squibb has been dedicated to helping patients prevail over HIV for more than two decades and is committed to the ongoing discovery, development and delivery of medicines to fight HIV/AIDS globally,” said Brian Daniels, SVP development. “The profile of festinavir offers the possibility of improvement in the safety of long-term HIV treatment, an area of significant unmet medical need.”

Oncolys president and CEO Yasuo Urata expressed high hopes for the medicine.

“For many years I have been working for the development of medicines in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and I’m convinced that festinavir has the possibility to be a potent and effective NRTI with a promising resistance profile,” Urata said. “Also, festinavir’s once-daily dosage is essential for treating HIV patients worldwide.”

Early preclinical studies suggested that festinavir, which was licensed to Oncolys in 2006 from Yale University, “could have an improved safety profile over previous generations of NRTIs,” both companies noted in a joint statement.

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