Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. said Jan. 8 it agreed to pay about $2.5 billion in cash to buy Inhibitex Inc. (INHX), the second maker of hepatitis C drugs to be acquired within two months as companies jockey for position in a developing $20 billion market. Bristol- Myers offered $26 per share, more than double Inhibitex’s $9.87 closing price on Jan. 6. The deal gives the New York-based company a similar drug to one Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD) gained in the $10.8 billion purchase of Pharmasset Inc. (VRUS) that was announced in November.
Novartis is “very excited” about its own hepatitis C compound in development, called DEB025, Jimenez said.
“We have high hopes for that drug,” the CEO said. Still, “we would benefit from a partner” and “we would love to be further” in hepatitis C, although Novartis isn’t willing to overpay for any transaction, he said. Hepatitis C, a virus that affects the liver, is carried by as many as 170 million.