Johnson & Johnson to purchase HBV drugmaker Novira

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Johnson & Johnson said this week it has entered a deal to acquire hepatitis B virus (HBV) drug developer Novira Therapeutics Inc. by the end of the year.

The agreement will give Johnson & Johnson access to and the rights to the Pennsylvania-based biopharmaceutical company's leading antiviral NVR 3-778 to treat chronic HBV infection. Given as an oral capsule, NVR 3-778 works by inhibiting the HBV core or capsid protein, which helps to suppress virus production and replication in individuals with HBV.

Chronic Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection that affects more than 350 million people around the world and causes almost 1 million deaths each year through liver diseases caused by chronic HBV infection. Additionally, more than half of the cases of liver cancer are the result of HBV infection.

“We are excited about the prospect this acquisition offers to accelerate the development of curative treatments for people affected by chronic hepatitis B,” William Hait, global head of research and development for the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, said. “NVR 3-778 offers the potential for efficient suppression of virus production and replication, which could help address the remaining unmet medical needs.”

The price of the Johnson & Johnson's acquisition of Novira Therapeutics has not been disclosed.

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