Bristol-Myers Squibb is set to buy Cardioxyl Pharmaceuticals and its portfolio of clinical and pre-clinical heart drugs in a deal that boosts the big pharma company’s cardiovascular drug pipeline.
Under the definitive agreement announced this morning, New York-based Bristol-Myers (NYSE: BMS) will pay up to $300 million in upfront and near-term milestone payments to acquire Cardioxyl. If Cardioxyl’s lead drug candidate for heart failure drug hits development, regulatory, and sales milestones, the Chapel Hill, NC-based company stands to gain up to $1.7 billion.
Heart failure affects 5.1 million Americans and accounts for more than $32 billion in annual healthcare costs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition is the most common cause of hospitalization for patients 65 and older, and can be fatal. Cardioxyl has developed a chemistry platform focused on nitroxyl, a compound shown to have potential to treat heart failure. The company’s lead drug, CXL-1427, is what’s called a prodrug—it is activated only under certain conditions. The intravenously administered Cardioxyl drug is in Phase 2 clinical trials for acute decompensated heart failure, the worsening of heart failure symptoms such as shortness of breath, the buildup of fluid in the lungs as the heart pumps blood less effectively, and fatigue.
Current treatments for acute decompensated heart failure include removing the excess fluid and salt from the body, or administering nitrates to improve the heart’s function. With CXL-1427, Cardioxyl says it is trying to treat the condition’s underlying cause. The company’s drug releases nitroxyl, a molecule that has shown in Cardioxyl’s research to have beneficial effects on heart muscle and vascular function. In clinical trials so far, Cardioxyl says CXL-1427 improves how the heart muscle contracts and relaxes without increasing heart rate or the demand for oxygen. The company says current treatments for the condition produce an increase in heart rate, oxygen consumption, or both, and are associated with higher risks of risks for restricted blood flow to parts of the body and irregular heartbeats, which can lead to death.
“The acquisition of Cardioxyl strengthens Bristol-Myers Squibb’s heart failure pipeline with a Phase 2 asset that has the potential to change the course of the disease rather than simply treating the symptoms,” Francis Cuss, Bristol’s executive vice president and chief scientific officer said in a written statement.
Cardioxyl was founded in 2005 on research originally developed at Johns Hopkins University. In 2009, the company moved to Chapel Hill. Cardioxyl has raised more than $42 million in venture capital financing from investors that include The Aurora Funds, New Enterprise Associates, Orbimed Advisors, and Osage University Partners. The boards of directors for both companies have already approved the deal. The companies expect to close the acquisition by the end of the year.