Merck buys vax unit from bankrupt Hawaii Biotech

Merck (NYSE: MRK) has agreed to purchase bankrupt Hawaii Biotech's dengue fever vaccine unit for an undisclosed sum. It's a critical move for Hawaii, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year and will deplete a $2 million credit line by the end of this month. The sale leaves Hawaii with a West Nile virus vaccine in development.

Hawaii CEO Elliot Parks says Merck's interest in the dengue unit validates the work his company has done on the program. "We're very proud to see that they will develop what we've been working on. They clearly have the resources to get the products registered and into the public health system," he notes. The vaccine is set to enter the clinic later this year. Merck, for its part, says that the purchase is part of its strategy to develop vaccines for unmet medical needs. The Pharma giant's other programs include vaccines hepatitis A and hepatitis B; measles, mumps and rubella; human papillomavirus; and influenza, according to the Star Advertiser.

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