MediciNova to Buy Avigen for $37 Million

pillsmoneyPharmaceutical company MediciNova (MNOV) announced that it will buy Avigen (AVGN) for $1.24 per share, approximately $37 million. Forbes reports that Avigen had been in talks with MediciNova for over a year. Basic terms of the sale had been agreed upon since June. Avigen, which develops virus-based gene therapies, had been looking for a buyer for months. The transaction should close in the fourth quarter of 2009.

The two California-based companies are running clinical trials of a drug called ibudilast.  MediciNova had been testing ibudilast as a potential treatment for multiple sclerosis, while Avigen was exploring the drug’s effect on chronic nerve pain, opioid withdrawal, and opioid and methamphetamine addiction. Ibudilast was originally developed in Japan 20 years ago as a treatment for asthma.

In February, Avigen announced positive results in preclinical trials of AV411, their formulation of ibudilast. The drug was found to effectively reduce pain while reducing the addictive properties of opioid painkillers. Other alternatives to opioid painkilers are being developed by companies such as Omneuron, Pain Therapeutics, DURECT Corporation, Purdue Pharma, and Winston Laboratories.

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