Avista Capital to acquire Bristol-Myers Medical Imaging

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Contrast-Enhanced Ultrasound. Source: University College of London department of medical physics and bioengineering

Bristol-Myers Squibb and Avista Capital Partners, a leading private equity firm, have signed a definitive agreement for Avista to acquire Bristol-Myers Squibb Medical Imaging for approximately $525 million in cash proceeds.

The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of January 2008, subject to customary regulatory approvals, at which time BMS MI will operate as an independent company under a new name. Don Kiepert, the founder and former chairman, CEO and president of Point Therapeutics, will become the CEO of the, according to Avista.

Avista will obtain the rights to the radiopharmaceuticals and contrast agent products, of which Definity and Cardiolite have been the most profitable. However, in October, the FDA added a black box warning to Definity over concerns that there is an increased diagnosis of heart problems during its use in ultrasound imaging.

Cardiolite, which entered the U.S. market in 1990, is an FDA-approved myocardial perfusion nuclear cardiology imaging agent indicated for detecting coronary artery disease by localizing myocardial ischemia and infarction.

According to the American Chemical Society, Cardiolite is the leading cardiac imaging agent in the world, but BMS will also soon lose its patent exclusivity, which will make the company subject to competition from generic versions.

“As Bristol-Myers Squibb continues to focus on evolving into a next-generation BioPharma company, we determined the best way to maximize the value of Medical Imaging for shareholders was to sell this business and reinvest the proceeds into our pharmaceutical research, development and commercialization efforts," said James M. Cornelius, CEO of BMS. "At the same time, we believe that Medical Imaging can maximize its potential under new ownership, and Avista has a proven track record of success in the healthcare field."

Larry Pickering, Avista’s healthcare industry partner, said that BMS MI “is a great fit for our healthcare portfolio, as it addresses the healthcare industry's increasing need for improved diagnostic tools."

BMS MI will be Avista's sixth investment in the healthcare industry. On Dec. 13, Avista agreed to acquire the Fluid Management and Venous Access businesses from Boston Scientific.