Novartis Buys Alnylam Shares, Xconomy Holds First Ever Health IT Forum, Vertex Alumni Spread Throughout Life Sciences Sector, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

4/30/10Follow @xconomy

It was a big news week for the intersection of information technology and healthcare, with our first ever forum completely dedicated to the topic, and a few startups in the space nabbing funding. Headlines from big pharma companies rounded it out for us, too.

—Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN), the Watertown, MA-based maker of electronic health records software systems, announced it has hired IBM’s Managed Process Business Services unit for IT and administrative support. The deal with IBM (NYSE: IBM) will allow Athenahealth to focus on improving the administrative and reimbursement aspects of its products, it said in an announcement.

—Waltham, MA-based drugmaker Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS) revealed its royalty rate for exenatide once-weekly (Bydureon), a diabetes drug from Eli Lilly and Amylin Pharmeceuticals that uses Alkermes’ chemistry technology. The Waltham company will take in 8 percent of sales of the first 40 million units of the treatment sold per year, which could bring in about $160 million if Bydureon is priced comparably to an existing twice-daily version of exenatide. Alkermes would also take a 5.5 percent royalty rate on sales beyond those first 40 million units.

Novartis exercised its option to buy 55,223 more shares of Cambridge, MA-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY), for a total of about $1 million. The deal allows pharmaceutical giant Novartis to maintain its 13.4 percent stake in the company, which is developing treatments using RNA interference technology.

Charles River Laboratories International plans to buy Chinese R&D services firm WuXi PharmaTech for $1.6 billion in cash and common stock, the companies announced on Monday. The $21.25-per-share deal, which is subject to shareholder approval, represents a 28 percent premium over WuXi’s closing stock price on Friday.

—Ryan caught up with the CEO of Cambridge’s Gene Network Sciences, a startup that’s out to match patients with the drugs that best suit them, and help prevent the wasteful spending that results when insurance companies reimburse for treatments that just don’t work. The company formed in 2000 and is widely know for its computer-simulated drug research for big pharma companies, but its new GNS Healthcare subsidiary will attempt to tackle these inefficiencies in the healthcare market.

—We held our first ever event dedicated solely to exploring the role information technology will play in improving the quality of patient care. Our Healthcare In Transition forum featured speakers from EMC, Microsoft, and a slew of startups, who dished on how their technology is giving patients greater control over the direction of their health.

—Fairfield, CT-based Management Health Solutions, a provider of inventory management software for hospitals, announced it had raised a $7 million Series B round, led by Enhanced Equity Fund. The new funding enabled its recent acquisition of AtPar, a mobile supply chain software company, and will also go to hiring new employees and expanding products and services.

—Luke did a “where are they now?” piece on the earliest staffers of Vertex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ; VRTX), the Cambridge biotech that started with the mission of making small-molecule drugs more efficiently than the big pharma companies could. The company was founded 20 years ago by a former senior chemist at Merck, but its alumni have gone on to both big name Boston life sciences and venture capital firms, not to mention a few of their own startups. The list of 33 alumni (and growing, with the help of reader suggestions) helps paint a picture of the influence of the Vertex network in the biotech scene.

—HealthEdge Software, a Burlington, MA-based healthcare payment software maker, pulled in $1.5 million of a planned $3.5 million offering of debt, options, and warrants, an SEC filing revealed.

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