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Helsinn Announces the Acquisition of Sapphire Therapeutics Inc., USA to Establish Helsinn Therapeutics (US) Inc.

LUGANO, Switzerland, January 28 /PRNewswire/ -- Today the Swiss pharmaceutical group Helsinn announced the acquisition, of the US biopharmaceutical company, Sapphire Therapeutics Inc. with headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey, for an undisclosed amount.

The establishment of a US-based R&D and commercial operation represents attainment of one of the Helsinn Group's corporate strategic goals. "We are thrilled at this very important opportunity to increase Helsinn's value with a direct presence in the major pharmaceutical market of the world," said Riccardo Braglia, CEO of the Helsinn Group. "The acquisition of Sapphire Therapeutics will also allow us to expand our current pipeline of products in existing, focused therapeutic areas, in particular in Cancer Supportive Care. This is a major step forward for the growth of Helsinn into the future with the new subsidiary Helsinn Therapeutics (US) Inc.," he concluded.

Sapphire Therapeutics Inc. was founded in 2000 and is focused on developing first-in-class, composition-of-matter protected products for the treatment of a variety of cancer, gastrointestinal and metabolic conditions. "Sapphire Therapeutics Inc. and its staff have proven pharma and biotech expertise and all of us are extremely excited of becoming part of the Helsinn Group," commented William J. Polvino, CEO of Sapphire Therapeutics (US) Inc.

Helsinn has appointed Franco De Vecchi, who is already a member of Helsinn Holding's Board, to become Chairman and President of Helsinn Therapeutics (US) Inc. to manage all of the existing staff who will be maintained and strengthened.

This acquisition will give the Helsinn Group access to a very interesting and promising pipeline of products:

- anamorelin, a first-in-class therapy for the treatment of cancer cachexia, suitable for once-a-day oral administration, with early evidence of a rapid onset of beneficial effects (appetite, gain weight, quality of life) and a good safety and tolerability profile (end Phase II);

- ipamorelin, for the i.v. treatment of post operative ileus, the impairment of bowel motility following surgery, an unmet medical need (Phase II);

- ST-1141, a new oral compound, for the treatment of opioid-induced bowel dysfunction (Phase I);

- Other products at research stage.

The acquisition will have a direct, positive impact on the Helsinn Group since the production of Helsinn Therapeutics (US) Inc. products will be manufactured in Helsinn's high standard quality manufacturing facilities in Switzerland which operate according to EU and FDA health and environmental requirements.

About Helsinn Group

Helsinn is a privately owned pharmaceutical group with headquarters in Lugano, Switzerland. Helsinn's unique business model is focused on the licensing of pharmaceuticals and medical devices in therapeutic niche areas. The Group in-licenses early stage new chemical entities, completes their development from the performance of pre-clinical/clinical studies and Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control (CMC) development, to the filing for and attainment of their market approval worldwide.

Helsinn's products are sold directly, through the Group subsidiaries, or eventually out-licensed to its network of local marketing and commercial partners, selected for their deep in-market knowledge and know-how, and assisted and supported with a full range of product and scientific management services, including commercial, regulatory, financial, legal and medical marketing advice.

The active pharmaceutical ingredients and the finished dosage forms are manufactured at Helsinn's cGMP facilities in Switzerland and Ireland, and supplied worldwide to its customers.

Helsinn is the worldwide licensor of palonosetron, a second generation 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) and of post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV) in patients with cancer, and of the original nimesulide, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) distributed in more than 50 countries worldwide.

Helsinn, with a workforce of 430 employees in Switzerland and Ireland, reports an expected 2008 turnover of over 279.5 million CHF, covering 75 countries worldwide, with over 20% of this turnover invested in R&D.

    Dr. Riccardo Braglia, CEO
    Helsinn Healthcare SA, Switzerland
    Phone: +41-91-985-21-21

SOURCE Helsinn Healthcare SA
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