By Matthew Willett

InterMune Inc. agreed to license the FDA-approved hepatitis C therapeutic Infergen (interferon alfacon-1) from Amgen Inc. for $21 million in up-front payments, $8 million in near-term milestones and royalties on sales.

Amgen, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., granted InterMune, of Burlingame, Calif., exclusive rights to develop and commercialize Infergen and an early stage pegylated interferon product candidate under development by Amgen in the U.S. and Canada.

The FDA approved Infergen in 1997 for treatment for hepatitis C. The therapeutic is a consensus alpha interferon, different from the natural protein, and is administered three times per week by subcutaneous injection. It was Amgen¿s third approved product. (See BioWorld Today, Oct. 8, 1997.)

Amgen reported sales of $14.5 million for Infergen in 2000, a decrease of about 45 percent from sales of $26.2 million in 1999.

InterMune also disclosed its intention to offer $125 million in convertible subordinated notes due 2006 concurrent to the 3-million-share common stock offering it announced earlier this month. That offering could net gross the company up to $120 million. (See BioWorld Today, June 6, 2001.)

Lehman Brothers Inc., of New York, will act as sole lead underwriter for the offerings, and Banc of America Securities LLC, of New York; Robertson Stephens Inc., of San Francisco; and UBS Warburg LLC, of Stamford, Conn., are co-managing underwriters.

Underwriters have been granted an option to purchase an additional 450,000 shares of common stock and $18.75 million of notes to cover overallotments, if any. The news Friday, however, wasn¿t all rosy for InterMune.

The company released updated guidance for 2001, modifying its revenue goals to reflect the Infergen acquisition and greater-than-expected losses.

InterMune now cites a goal for combined sales from Actimmune, Infergen and Amphotec of $35 million. Net-loss estimates, however, were raised to $50 million to $55 million from $36 million. The company continues to target profitability by the end of 2003.

InterMune declined comment Friday on the news, citing quite-period restrictions.

In-licensing isn¿t a new move for InterMune, which was spun off from Connetics Corp., of Palo Alto, Calif., concurrent to a licensing deal for lead product Actimmune. Actimmune, for treatment of chronic granulomatous disease and severe malignant osteopetrosis, was licensed by Connetics from Genentech Inc., of South San Francisco, in May 1998.

Its second product, Amphotec, approved for treatment of invasive aspergillosis, began its development as a Mountain View, Calif.-based ALZA Corp. drug. InterMune recently bought rights to Amphotec for $9 million plus undisclosed milestones. (See BioWorld Today, Jan. 10, 2001.)

Actimmune is currently in a Phase III trial for treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

As of March 31, InterMune had cash, cash equivalents and available-for-sale securities totaling about $175 million. It reported 24 million shares outstanding and a net loss for the first quarter of $10.6 million.

InterMune¿s stock (NASDAQ:ITMN) fell $1.19 Friday to close at $34.94.

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