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Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMY - Analyst Report) recently entered into a strategic alliance with privately-held biopharmaceutical company Santaris Pharma A/S to discover and develop medicines on a global basis using latter's proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) Drug Platform.

As per the terms of the agreement, Santaris is eligible for an upfront payment of $10 million along with milestone payments of $90 million. Additionally, Santaris will also receive royalties on the worldwide sales of all medicines arising from the alliance.

Earlier in the month, Bristol-Myers entered into a non-exclusive agreement with Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX - Analyst Report) for the phase II development of once-daily all-oral treatment regimens, which will combine Vertex Pharma’s VX-135 and Bristol-Myers’ daclatasvir for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections.

Under the terms of the agreement, Vertex Pharma would conduct two phase II studies with the combination. This includes an initial study that will begin in the second quarter of 2013 in treatment-naïve patients with genotype 1 HCV infection.

Subsequent to obtaining data from the study, Vertex Pharma will commence another study, potentially in the second half of the year, in treatment-naïve patients with genotype 1, 2 or 3 HCV infection, including patients with cirrhosis.

Vertex will evaluate the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics and viral cure rates (SVR4 and SVR12) of several all-oral regimens of VX-135 plus daclatasvir dosed once daily in these studies.

We note that Bristol-Myers is looking to combat the generic threat hanging over its key drugs through partnering deals and acquisitions and introducing new products to augment its product portfolio.

Bristol-Myers carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Right now UCB SA (UCBJF) and Gilead Sciences Inc. (GILD - Analyst Report) look well placed in the biopharma space. While UCB SA carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Gilead Sciences has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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