$1.75 billion deal brings Phase II compounds for hepatitis C and respiratory syncytial virus

Johnson and Johnson (J&J) has agreed to buy antiviral specialist Alios BioPharma for $1.75 billion (£1.1 billion). The deal gives J&J’s Janssen subsidiary access to two compounds currently in Phase II trials, plus a pipeline of related compounds.

Alios’s two most developed compounds are for respiratory syncytial virus in infants and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Both are nucleotide analogues that interfere with viral polymerases involved in genome replication, similar to Gilead’s blockbuster HCV drug Sovaldi (sofosbuvir).

J&J already markets several antivirals – including Olysio (simeprevir) for hepatitis C, which is often prescribed in combination with Sovaldi. Developing its own nucleotide-based polymerase inhibitors would make J&J less dependent on Gilead for its slice of the HCV market.