Johnson & Johnson to acquire Novira Therapeutics

Johnson & Johnson recently completed an agreement to purchase hepatitis B virus (HBV) drug developer Novira Therapeutics.

The deal both complements and enhances Johnson & Johnson's existing pipeline of infectious disease therapeutics as it now has access to the Pennsylvania-based biopharmaceutical company's antivirals, including its lead product known as NVR 3-778 to treat chronic HBV infection. The drug, which is given orally, works by inhibiting the HBV core or capsid protein, which helps prevent virus production and replication.

HBV is a serious liver disease that affects more than 350 million people around the world and leads to almost 1 million deaths each year. More than half of liver cancer cases are said to be the result of HBV infection.

"We are exploring several approaches in pursuit of a functional cure for this insidious disease," William Hait, global head of research and development for the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, said. "Bringing together NVR 3-778 with our own internal discoveries, we will leverage our vast experience in viral diseases to develop potentially transformational medicines for HBV patients."

The financial terms related to the acquisition are unknown.

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