Bristol-Myers Squibb finds buyer for imaging unit

Pharmaceutical developer Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) of New York City has inked a deal to sell its medical imaging unit to a private equity firm for $525 million. The deal includes the division's portfolio of contrast products, including its popular Cardiolite radiopharmaceutical for cardiac SPECT imaging.

BMS is selling the division to Avista Capital Partners, a New York City-based investment firm that has made a number of acquisitions in the healthcare field in the last two years. A week ago, Avista agreed to buy Natick, MA-based Boston Scientific's fluid management and venous access business, and earlier in the year the firm made investments in BioReliance and VWR International. In 2006, Avista took positions in Nycomed and MedServe.

Bristol-Myers Squibb on December 5 announced that it was selling the medical imaging unit, which it formed after acquiring DuPont Pharmaceuticals in 2001. BMS said that the main reason for the divestiture was the company's difficulty in developing successful follow-on products to Cardiolite, the firm's technetium-99m-based agent for cardiac SPECT. Cardiolite is scheduled to lose its patent protection soon, which will open the product up to competition from generics.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Medical Imaging also markets Definity, an ultrasound contrast agent, as well as Neurolite, a technetium-based SPECT brain perfusion radiopharmaceutical. Other products in the division's portfolio include Xenon Xe 133 gas, TechneLite, and Miraluma.

Avista executives said the division is a good fit for the firm's other healthcare activities. The unit will become an independent company under a new name, and will be led by Don Kiepert, the founder and former chairman, CEO, and president of biopharmaceutical firm Point Therapeutics of Wellesley Hills, MA.

The deal is expected to close in January 2008, and is subject to customary regulatory approvals.

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Bristol-Myers Squibb gets Premier contract, April 21, 2005

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