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Avila Sets Out to Take on Vertex, CombinatoRx Nails FDA Approval, Millipore Opts for Merck KGaA over Thermo Fisher, & More Boston-Area Life Sciences News

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one-tenth of the price of competing products.

— CombinatoRx (NASDAQ:CRXX) secured FDA approval for its pain drug hydromorphone HCL (Exalgo), an extended-release tablet to treat moderate to severe aches and pains that became part of the firm’s drug lineup when it merged with Vancouver-based Neuromed Pharmaceuticals. It represents Cambridge-based CombinatoRx’s first drug approval and earned the company a $40 million payment from Covidien (NYSE:COV), which has the U.S. rights to Exalgo and plans to begin selling the drug the first half of this year.

—Boston-based software firm Amicas warmed up to a prospective buyout from competitor Merge Healthcare, which had offered to buy the company at $6.05 a share. Amicas’ board criticized the Merge bid last month as an attempt to interfere with a deal offered by private equity firm Thoma Bravo, and had previously agreed to accept Thoma Bravo’s $5.35-per-share offer. But now the company’s board is giving Thoma Bravo until March 8 to top the Merge offer, and has scheduled a shareholder vote on the buyout proposals for March 16.

—Ryan profiled an under-the-radar cystic fibrosis research nonprofit, CFRx, started by Braintree, MA real estate developer John Flatley as an attempt to find a cure for the disease, which affects one of his family members. A former scientist from Genzyme helped launch the nonprofit, which is funded by the Flatley Foundation created by Flatley’s deceased real estate tycoon and philanthropist father.

—Luke caught up with Tolerx, a Cambridge company that aims to create drugs that train the immune systems of people with autoimmune conditions to tolerate healthy tissues. It announced in January it had enrolled patients in a study to test its drug’s effectiveness in extending Type 1 diabetes patients’ natural ability to produce insulin.

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