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In a bid to strengthen its position in pet therapeutics, Aratana Therapeutics, Inc. (PETX - Snapshot Report) recently announced that it has acquired Belgium-based Okapi Sciences NV.

Okapi owns a proprietary pet therapeutics antiviral platform and currently has five candidates in its pipeline being developed for treating viral diseases. 

As per the terms of the acquisition, Aratana paid approximately €10.3 million in cash to the equity holders of Okapi. Aratana also issued a promissory note for €11 million with a maturity date of Dec 31, 2014 subject to mandatory prepayment in the event of an equity financing. In addition, Aratana agreed to pay an additional €12 million in cash or shares as per the terms stated in the purchase agreement within 90 days.

Aratana, a biopharmaceutical company, focuses exclusively on pets. Hence, the acquisition of Okapi will further bolster its position in pet therapeutics, particularly in Europe. The lead antiviral product candidate in Okapi’s pipeline is being developed as a treatment of ocular disease caused by feline herpes virus in cats. Once approved, Aratana plans to commercialize the product under an existing development and commercialization agreement with the Animal Health unit of Novartis (NVS - Snapshot Report).

The pipeline also includes a product for the treatment of feline immunodeficiency virus and additional antiviral and oncology products for both cats and dogs.

Moreover, the acquisition will allow Aratana to benefit from the development agreements which Okapi has forged with leading universities in Europe.

Aratana currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the biopharmaceutical sector include Forest Laboratories (FRX - Analyst Report) and Lannett Inc. (LCI - Snapshot Report). Both carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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