BioCryst Drops Idera Pharma Merger After Shareholders Veto Deal

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

BioCryst Pharmaceuticals is ending a plan to merge with Idera Pharmaceuticals and form a single company focused on rare diseases.

Durham, NC-based BioCryst (NASDAQ: BCRX) terminated the merger agreement on Tuesday following a meeting that saw shareholders vote overwhelmingly against the proposal. Of the more than 80 million shares represented in the vote, 50.6 million shares were voted against the deal. Meanwhile, shareholders of Idera, which splits its operations between Exton, PA, and Cambridge, MA, supported the merger in a lopsided vote.

BioCryst and Idera reached their merger agreement in January. The companies framed the tie-up as way to pool their resources behind their respective late-stage clinical programs. BioCryst’s lead drug, BCX7353, is in Phase 3 studies testing the pill as a treatment for hereditary angioedema (HAE), an inherited disorder that causes sudden attacks of swelling and inflammation in the face. In some cases, an HAE attack can close off a patient’s airway. Meanwhile, Idera is in a Phase 3 study testing its drug IMO-2125 in melanoma patients who have not responded to earlier treatments. The companies boasted that joining forces would also give the combined entity a pipeline of nine rare disease programs.

Some investors reacted coolly to the plan. RA Capital, which holds a greater than 7 percent stake in the North Carolina biotech, expressed its opposition in a letter to the BioCryst board that urged other shareholders to vote against the merger. The investment firm said the merger undervalues BioCryst’s HAE drug, which is expected to report data from the Phase 3 study in the first half of next year.

With the merger plan now scuttled, BioCryst says it is putting its efforts behind the HAE drug and the rest of its drug programs. Under the terms of the merger agreement, BioCryst now owes Idera $6 million for transaction expenses.

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