Tekmira to become Arbutus, shift focus to hep B
- After Tekmira's merger with OnCore in March, the combined entity now boasts the largest hepatitis B (HBV) pipeline in the industry.
- Tekmira, which will change its name to Arbutus, is shifting its focus from Ebola to hepatitis B, and has basically walked away from development of Ebola-related therapeutics after a trial on its Ebola therapy was halted in June due to concerns about efficacy.
- Tekmira/Arbutus plans to have at least four HBV product candidates in clinical development by the first half of 2016.
Hepatitis B is a global problem that affects 240 million people, and leads to 600,000 liver-related deaths each year. With a pipeline of eight HBV drugs, Tekmira/Arbutus is well positioned to tap into this market. In addition to plans to have four drugs in clinical development during the first half of 2016, Tekmira/Arbutus also expects to file three NDAs for additional candidates in 2016.
Financially the company is well positioned, thanks largely to capital it raised in March when Tekmira completed an underwritten public offering of common shares in which it raised approximately $152 million. On the downside, however, now that Tekmira is no longer working on the Ebola project, funds from the Department of Defense may be at risk unless the company is able to find a suitable strategic alternative to fulfill the goals of this contract.