Roche Buys Covid Treatment Rights From Atea in $350 Million Deal

Roche Holding AG agreed to pay $350 million in an alliance with Atea Pharmaceuticals Inc. to develop a potential treatment for Covid-19.

The Swiss drugmaker will get the rights to distribute Atea’s AT-527 drug outside of the U.S. under the agreement, Atea said Thursday. Roche may also pay milestone payments and royalties.

AT-527 is an oral medicine designed to inhibit the virus from replicating, and it’s currently in phase-two clinical testing. Atea has a phase-three trial in outpatients slated for the first half of 2021, and it’s planning another as well to see if the drug can help prevent Covid-19.

Many people’s hopes for a speedy coronavirus vaccine are still too high, Roche Chief Executive Officer Severin Schwan said recently in a Bloomberg TV interview. Most people probably won’t have access to a shot until the second half of 2021, he said.

Roche isn’t working on a coronavirus vaccine, but it is also working with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. on another potential treatment.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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