Pet therapeutics company Aratana Therapeutics has acquired Belgium-based pet antiviral drug firm Okapi Sciences. Aratana says Okapi's relationships with academic institutions such as KU Leuven, technologies, products, and geographic location were all factors in the decision to pick up Okapi.
Okapi's lead antiviral product candidate is currently being developed as a treatment of ocular disease caused by feline herpes virus in cats. The firms believe this candidate could become the world's first antiviral small molecule therapeutic developed specifically for veterinary use. If it's approved, Aratana plans to commercialize the product in certain territories under an agreement it has with Novartis Animal Health. A product for treating feline immunodeficiency virus as well as other antiviral and oncology products for both cats and dogs are also currently in Okapi's pipeline.
Per the stock purchase agreement, at the closing Aratana paid approximately €10.3 million ($14 million) in cash to Okapi's equity holders and issued a promissory note for €11 million ($14.98 million) with a maturity date of December 31, 2014. Aratana also agreed to pay an additional €12 million ($16.34 million) in cash or shares of common stock calculated within 90 days.
"We view this transaction as an important next stage in bringing our molecules closer to the market, which will benefit pets in need worldwide," said Okapi's co-founder and former CEO Erwin Blomsma, Ph.D., in a statement. "We are excited to be welcomed into a growing and dynamic pet therapeutics company that shares our philosophy regarding elevating the standard of care for our pets." Dr. Blomsma will be joining Aratana as vp and general manager.