Vetoquinol to buy Bioniche animal health business

Ontario medical and veterinary drugmaker Bioniche Life Sciences has picked a suitor for the animal health portion of its business.

Belleville-based Bioniche announced Thursday it has reached a deal to sell its animal health business to France-based veterinary pharma firm Vetoquinol for $61 million, pending shareholder approval and other closing conditions.

Bioniche’s animal health business has been on the block since May last year as the company sought to reposition itself as “a well-capitalized company focused on human health” — specifically on its Phase III bladder cancer therapy product, Urocidin. [Related story]

Bioniche, which has been in the animal health business since 1979, has previously billed its animal health arm as the biggest Canadian-owned animal health company, with product lines in livestock reproduction, immunotherapeutics, equine performance and companion animal health.

Bioniche Animal Health’s lead product is Folltropin-V, a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) used in the embryo transfer industry to induce superovulation in cattle and sheep.

The Vetoquinol deal doesn’t include Bioniche One Health, the division which handles the company’s Econiche vaccine and operates its Animal Health and Food Safety Vaccine Manufacturing Centre in Belleville. Econiche vaccine is registered for use in cattle to help reduce risk of E. coli O157:H7 contamination in beef.

Bioniche recently said it’s also focused on finding partners to invest in Bioniche One Health, or on selling One Health assets such as the Econiche technology and the Belleville vaccine manufacturing centre, to recoup its investment in that division.

The company earlier this month announced, coming out of a three-month “strategic investment review,” it would lay off 40 staff, delist itself from the Australian Securities Exchange and list two “non-core” properties for immediate sale.

Bioniche said at the time it had also set up “numerous smaller transactions dedicated to reducing operating expenses on an ongoing basis,” such as negotiating reductions in past supplier invoices and discounts and lower rates for future goods and services. — Network

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