SOURCE: Drais Pharmaceuticals Inc.

January 06, 2010 17:30 ET

Acquisition of AkaRx by Eisai for $255M Closes

Company Founders Continue Working Together at Drais

BRIDGEWATER, NJ--(Marketwire - January 6, 2010) - AkaRx Inc., a privately held drug development company ("AkaRx") announced today the closure of its acquisition by Eisai Inc. ("Eisai") of Woodcliff Lake, NJ for $255 Million. With today's closing, AkaRx becomes a wholly-owned subsidiary of Eisai, the US subsidiary of Tokyo-based Eisai Co., Ltd. The founding team of AkaRx has since founded a second company, Drais Pharmaceuticals Inc. that like AkaRx, is backed by venture capital investors InterWest Partners and Sutter Hill Ventures.

The acquisition of AkaRx marks the culmination of a development license agreement and a deferred merger agreement, both of which were originally signed between AkaRx and MGI PHARMA INC. ("MGI") in August 2007. In 2008 Eisai acquired MGI, which included the option to acquire AkaRx and AKR-501. During the option period, MGI, and then Eisai, managed and funded the development of AkaRx's lead compound, AKR-501. AKR-501 is a pharmacological agonist of the thrombopoietin receptor that stimulates platelet production, and was under development at AkaRx for the treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). A Phase II clinical study in ITP has been completed and two other phase II studies, one in liver disease and one in chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia are underway.

AkaRx was founded in 2005 as a spin out of the merger of Yamanouchi Pharmaceutical Company Ltd ("Yamanouchi") and Fujisawa Pharmaceutical Company Ltd. to form Astellas Pharma Inc. AKR-501 was originally discovered at Yamanouchi and was licensed to AkaRx as part of the original spin out and founding of the company in 2005.

"AkaRx represents both a unique investment structure and a tremendous example of collaboration between a highly experienced management team and their investors," said Dr. Arnold Oronsky, general partner, InterWest Partners. "Working together, we were able to combine the executive team's skills with our industry connections to create a company that, even at its earliest stages, showed great promise. We are very pleased to be investing again with the same team of executives, now at Drais Pharmaceuticals."

The founders of AkaRx were previously the senior management of Yamanouchi R&D in Paramus, NJ. They include Dr. Donna L. Tempel, now the president and CEO of Drais, and Dr. Robert E. Desjardins, that company's chief scientific officer and a member of the board of directors. Drais (, like AkaRx, specializes in the development of novel therapeutics for the treatment of conditions with serious and unmet medical needs.

About Drais Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Drais Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a privately held drug development company dedicated to the in-licensing, development and commercialization of novel therapeutic treatments that address unmet medical needs, providing significant benefits over currently available therapies. In September 2008, Drais announced a worldwide development & commercialization deal for UNBS-5162 with Unibioscreen S.A.

Formed in September 2007, Drais completed a Series A financing round in January 2008 from lead investors, InterWest Partners (Menlo Park, CA) and Sutter Hill Ventures (Palo Alto, CA). The Drais management team consists of highly experienced individuals with a successful track record in the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to forming Drais, the management team founded AkaRx, Inc. Drais is based in Bridgewater, New Jersey.

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Contact Information

  • Contact:

    Donna Tempel
    President and CEO
    Drais Pharmaceuticals Inc.
    Email Contact

    Eliot Dobris
    Eliot Dobris Public Relations
    Email Contact