Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Merck Scoops Up Idenix in $3.85B Buyout

Idenix Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: IDIX  ) nearly became a footnote in the hepatitis C drug race a few years ago when Bristol-Myers Squibb's buyout of Inhibitex imploded, kick-starting a series of events that led the FDA to slap clinical holds on two of the Cambridge, MA-based company's drug prospects. Those who stayed with Idenix through the tough times are reaping the rewards today, however, as Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) has agreed to buy the company in a $3.85 billion deal.

Merck is paying a whopping $24.50 per share, all in cash, for the rights to Idenix —a more than 230 percent premium to the company's $7.34 per share closing price on Friday. Both companies' boards have approved the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter.

The deal marks an outcome that wouldn't have seemed possible only a couple of years ago. Idenix is one of a number of companies trying to whip up drugs that would be part of all-oral cocktail regimens for hepatitis C, which are replacing interferon-based therapies. But in August 2012, the FDA slapped clinical holds on Idenix's two most advanced compounds, IDX184 and IDX19368. Both drug candidates shared certain structural similarities to the drug Bristol-Myers got when it acquired Inhibitex—a drug that was linked with such serious safety concernsin a mid-stage trial that Bristol terminated the study, tossed the compound, andwrote off the Inhibitex deal. Shortly after the Bristol revelation, the FDA put holds on the two Idenix drugs, requesting all sorts of tests to ensure they were safe. Idenix shares were slammed, and the company had to regroup.

Idenix pivoted, and focused on some other prospects in its pipeline, like IDX-719, a so-called NS5A inhibitor now known as samatasvir, and preclinical drug candidates IDX21437 and IDX21459. Though it would have no shot to be part of the first wave of new hepatitis C therapies—Gilead Sciences, for instance, won FDA approval of sofosbuvir (Sovaldi) last year, and other drugs from AbbVie and Enanta Pharmaceuticals are coming—Idenix hoped to ultimately produce drugs that could be part of regimens for all subsets of hepatitis C patients, and thus compete with the Gileads and AbbVies of the world. (It's also sued Gilead for patent infringement, as has Merck.) Merck, which is developing a group of next-wave hepatitis C drugs of its own, is buying into that strategy today.

"Idenix has established a promising portfolio of hepatitis C candidates based on its expertise in nucleoside/nucleotide chemistry and prodrug technologies," said Merck research chief Roger Perlmutter (pictured above), in a statement. "Idenix's investigational hepatitis C candidates complement our promising therapies in development and will help advance our work to develop a highly effective, once-daily, all oral, ribavirin-free, pan-genotypic regimen that has a duration of treatment as short as possible for millions of patients in need around the world."

More premium advice from the Motley Fool
Have you ever dreamed of traveling back in time and telling your younger self to invest in Apple? Or to load up on at its IPO, and then just keep holding? We haven't mastered time travel, but there is a way to get out ahead of the next big thing. The secret is to find a small-cap "pure-play" and then watch as the industry -- and your company -- enjoy those same explosive returns. Our team of equity analysts has identified one stock that's ready for stunning profits with the growth of a $14.4 TRILLION industry. You can't travel back in time, but you can set up your future. Click here for the whole story in our eye-opening report.

This article originally appeared on Xconomy, along with:

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (1)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2987580, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/4/2015 2:52:22 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Xconomy is dedicated to providing business and technology leaders with timely, insightful, close-to-the-scene information about the local personalities, companies, and technological trends that best exemplify today’s high-tech economy. Find out more at

Today's Market

updated Moments ago Sponsored by:
DOW 16,038.57 -336.19 -2.05%
S&P 500 1,913.18 -37.95 -1.95%
NASD 4,661.09 -72.41 -1.53%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes

Related Tickers

12/31/1969 7:00 PM
IDIX $0.00 Down +0.00 +0.00%
Idenix Pharmaceuti… CAPS Rating: **
MRK $51.30 Down -1.35 -2.56%
Merck & Co., Inc. CAPS Rating: ****