Emory University sells HIV drug royalities for $525 million

ATLANTA (AP) - Emory University has sold its royalty rights to an HIV drug for $525 million, which school officials said Monday they believe is the largest amount ever for such a sale.

Emory announced it had entered into an agreement with Gilead Sciences Inc. and Royalty Pharma for the purchase of the royalty interest owed to Emory for emtricitabine, also known as Emtriva.

Under the terms of the agreement, Gilead and Royalty Pharma will make a one-time cash payment of $525 million to Emory in exchange for elimination of the emtricitabine royalties due to Emory on worldwide net sales of the drug.

Emtricitabine, which is used to inhibit the replication of the virus that causes AIDS, was discovered by Emory researchers Dr. Dennis C. Liotta, Dr. Raymond F. Schinazi and Dr. Woo-Baeg Choi and licensed to Triangle Pharmaceuticals by Emory University in 1996. Triangle was acquired by Gilead in 2003.

Emtricitabine, marketed by Gilead as Emtriva, was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2003 for the treatment of HIV infection in combination with other antiretroviral agents.

Emtricitabine is also a component of the triple fixed-dose combination product under development by the Bristol-Myers Squibb and Gilead Sciences joint venture. In connection with amending and restating the license agreement, Gilead will make a one-time payment of $15 million to Emory on closing of the transaction.

The deal is expected to close by July 29, Emory officials said.

The university's share of the transaction will be reinvested in Emory's research mission, Emory President James Wagner said in a statement.

''We feel privileged and humbled to receive such extraordinary recognition for the value of our intellectual property,'' Wagner said.