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

    LUGANO, Switzerland, Jan. 28 /CNW/ - 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

    - 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

    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
    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.

For further information:

For further information: Dr. Riccardo Braglia, CEO, Helsinn Healthcare
SA, Switzerland, Phone: +41-91-985-21-21, E-Mail: PBO@helsinn.com

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