Vancouver Biotech Company Catching Eye of Big Pharma

Interest in Vancouver’s Aquinox Pharmaceuticals Inc. by two of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies –Johnson & Johnson Inc. and Pfizer Inc. – is fuelling speculation it could soon become an acquisition target.

Johnson & Johnson has had a team following Aquinox – whose lead candidate is a potentially better treatment for asthma and allergies – since it participated in the company’s US$14.5 million Series A financing in June 2007.

Pfizer Venture Investments participated in a US$25 million Series B financing that Aquinox closed June 24. Its mandate: “Identify and invest in emerging companies that are developing compounds and technologies that could potentially enhance Pfizer’s pipeline and shape the future of the pharmaceutical industry.”

The round was led by Ventures West Capital and also included Johnson & Johnson Development Corp., BC Advantage Funds (VCC) Ltd. and Baker Brothers Investments.

David Main, Aquinox’s president and CEO, told BIV Tuesday: “The fact that Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer think what we have is good has certainly raised our awareness with other companies.”

“From their perspective, they have their own self-interest as well. They’re on the lookout, for their organizations, for the next big thing. And if by being an investor they get an early look at us – all the better for them.”

Added Main: “It allows them to monitor our progress quite closely.”

Source: Business in Vancouver