Anthrax-targeted biodefense biotechs join forces in merger pact

Altimmune CEO Bill Enright

Three years after the biodefense biotech PharmaThene’s $PIP deal to merge into Theraclone fell apart, the Annapolis, MD-based group has struck a deal to combine with Novartis-backed Altimmune in nearby Gaithersburg.

Altimmune shareholders will come out with the lion’s share of the stock and Altimmune CEO Bill Enright takes the helm of the merged operation, which brings together programs with shared targets. The biotech will also switch its stock symbol to $ALT.

Together, the company will have three early-stage clinical programs, including PharmaThene’s anthrax vaccine SparVax-L, with a Phase II study slated to begin in the second half. Another anthrax vaccine, Altimmune’s NasoShield, is headed into clinical studies with support from BARDA. There’s also a preclinical program that belongs to Altimmune, which is exploring its immuno-oncology uses.

“A merger with Altimmune is an ideal strategic match. It fulfills our stated goal of continuing to build value for PharmAthene shareholders after we distribute the SIGA litigation proceeds on February 3,” commented John M. Gill, President and Chief Executive Officer of PharmAthene. “By combining forces, we will diversify our portfolio into attractive commercial product opportunities and leverage our capabilities for developing next generation anthrax vaccines.”

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