Gilead Sciences to liver disease treatment from Phenex for as much as $470 million

Associated Press

Gilead Sciences Inc. is increasing its focus on treating liver diseases by paying as much as $470 million to buy a treatment being developed by privately held Phenex Pharmaceuticals AG.

Phenex, based in Germany, is working on a treatment for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which causes inflammation and fat accumulation in the liver and may lead to liver failure or scarring. As much as 20 percent of people in the developed world have nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, Gilead said.

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Gilead said Tuesday that it may pay Phenex up to $470 million, which includes an upfront fee plus additional payments based on future milestones.

The deal comes a day after CVS Health, one of the nation's largest pharmacy benefits managers, said Gilead's treatments for liver disease hepatitis C will become a preferred treatment on several of its pharmacy benefits management plans. Gileadalso sells treatments for liver disease hepatitis C.

Shares of Gilead, based in Foster City, California, based in rose $1.69, or 1.74 percent, to $98.47 in morning trading Tuesday.