Johnson & Johnson to acquire Novira Therapeutics

5 November 2015  •  Author: Victoria White

Johnson & Johnson has entered a definitive agreement to acquire Novira Therapeutics.


Novira is a privately held, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapies for curative treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The acquisition includes Novira’s portfolio of novel antivirals, including its lead candidate, NVR 3-778. Financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

Commenting on the news, Christian S. Schade, Chief Executive Officer of Novira Therapeutics, said, “This acquisition will enhance the ability of Novira’s research and development teams to continue to advance novel therapeutic candidates for chronic HBV infection. Novira is developing important new investigational curative treatments for HBV infection and this transaction is a great opportunity for the development of those assets to benefit from Johnson & Johnson’s resources, expertise and dedication to delivering innovative treatment options to the many patients with lifethreatening infections.”

NVR 3-778 is a small molecule, direct acting antiviral drug candidate that inhibits the HBV core or capsid protein. HBV core is a novel and promising drug target with multiple activities required for viral replication and persistence. Inhibition of the HBV core protein function by NVR 3-778 offers the potential for more efficient suppression of virus production and replication, which could lead to improved durable viral suppression and functional cure rates.

Acquisition combines Novira’s recent breakthroughs with J&J’s experience in viral diseases

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

The transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2015.

“Chronic hepatitis B is a potentially fatal liver disease with approximately 60 percent of hepatocellular carcinoma attributed to infection with the hepatitis B virus,” said Lawrence Blatt, PhD Global Head, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines, Janssen and Chief Executive Officer, Alios Biopharma, part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies. “With more than 350 million people affected worldwide we seek to overcome treatment challenges, such as the requirement for people to endure lifelong therapy, through scientific innovation.  Combining Novira’s recent breakthroughs with our vast experience in viral diseases we endeavor to deliver novel medicines for patients suffering from this insidious disease.” 

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