Beleaguered Nitromed Plans Exit From Bidil Business

October 24, 2008

October 24, 2008 (Lexington, MA) — NitroMed will sell its only product, a proprietary combination of hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrate (BiDil), to the privately owned JHP Pharmaceuticals for a cool $26 million cash if its shareholders warm to the deal, the company announced yesterday [1]. The company says it will continue marketing BiDil until it passes to the new owner, which was founded only last year but currently manufactures and sells a range of pharmaceutical products acquired from other companies.

"Subject to the customary closing conditions and approval by our shareholders, we expect to close on the sale of the BiDil drug business, which includes extended-release development and rights to market BiDil in Europe, in early 2009," NitroMed president and chief executive officer Kenneth M Bate said yesterday at a briefing for financial reporters.

Sales of BiDil have been consistently poor ever since its landmark 2005 approval for use in heart failure in blacks on the strength of the African-American Heart Failure Trial (A-HeFT), as previously covered by heartwire . There are probably a number of reasons for BiDil's low level of use, but it doesn't help that it's a combination of two drugs individually available as generics, although not necessarily in the same patented proportion.

Although NitroMed isn't closing down, at least not right away, it has no other products and no research pipeline. Although Bate was coy about plans for the company's future, when pressed by reporters he strongly hinted that they include selling off most or all of its remaining assets. They consist primarily of technology and a slew of patents relating to the development of drugs based on nitric oxide that could potentially be used in a range of disorders.

"We have retained our rights to everything that we've accumulated over the years in the nitric oxide platform," Bate said, "and we have been speaking with numerous parties about acquiring some or all of that intellectual property."

NitroMed was founded 15 years ago and went public in 2003.

JHP, of Parsippany, NJ, was launched in 2007 when it assumed ownership of a range of products from King Pharmaceuticals. It has recently been in acquisition mode, having bought dantrolene sodium (Dantrium) from Proctor & Gamble in August of this year [2]. That drug, a muscle relaxant, is used to treat malignant hyperthermia and control spasticity in some neurologic disorders.

  1. NitroMed Announces Agreement to Sell BiDil(R) Drug Business to JHP Pharmaceuticals, LLC. October 23, 2008. Available at http://investors.nitromed.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=130535&p=irol-newsArticle&t=Regular&id=1216368&.

  2. HP Pharmaceuticals and SpePharm complete purchase of Dantrium. August 20, 2008. Available at http://www.jhppharma.com/pressnews/dantrium.html



The complete contents of Heartwire , a professional news service of WebMD, can be found at www.theheart.org, a Web site for cardiovascular healthcare professionals.

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