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Wednesday 28 January, 2009

Helsinn Healthcare SA

Helsinn Announces the Acquisition of Sapphire T...

LUGANO, Switzerland, January 28 /PRNewswire/ --     Today the Swiss 
pharmaceutical group Helsinn announced the
acquisition, of the US biopharmaceutical company, Sapphire Therapeutics Inc.
with headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey, for an undisclosed amount.

    The establishment of a US-based R&D and commercial operation
represents attainment of one of the Helsinn Group's corporate strategic
goals. "We are thrilled at this very important opportunity to increase
Helsinn's value with a direct presence in the major pharmaceutical market of
the world," said Riccardo Braglia, CEO of the Helsinn Group. "The acquisition
of Sapphire Therapeutics will also allow us to expand our current pipeline of
products in existing, focused therapeutic areas, in particular in Cancer
Supportive Care. This is a major step forward for the growth of Helsinn into
the future with the new subsidiary Helsinn Therapeutics (US) Inc.," he

    Sapphire Therapeutics Inc. was founded in 2000 and is focused
on developing first-in-class, composition-of-matter protected products for
the treatment of a variety of cancer, gastrointestinal and metabolic
conditions. "Sapphire Therapeutics Inc. and its staff have proven pharma and
biotech expertise and all of us are extremely excited of becoming part of the
Helsinn Group," commented William J. Polvino, CEO of Sapphire Therapeutics
(US) Inc.

    Helsinn has appointed Franco De Vecchi, who is already a
member of Helsinn Holding's Board, to become Chairman and President of
Helsinn Therapeutics (US) Inc. to manage all of the existing staff who will
be maintained and strengthened.

    This acquisition will give the Helsinn Group access to a very
interesting and promising pipeline of products:

    - anamorelin, a first-in-class therapy for the treatment of
cancer cachexia, suitable for once-a-day oral administration, with early
evidence of a rapid onset of beneficial effects (appetite, gain weight,
quality of life) and a good safety and tolerability profile (end Phase II);

    - ipamorelin, for the i.v. treatment of post operative ileus,
the impairment of bowel motility following surgery, an unmet medical need
(Phase II);

    - ST-1141, a new oral compound, for the treatment of
opioid-induced bowel dysfunction (Phase I);

- Other products at research stage.

     The acquisition will have a direct, positive impact on the
Helsinn Group since the production of Helsinn Therapeutics (US) Inc. products
will be manufactured in Helsinn's high standard quality manufacturing
facilities in Switzerland which operate according to EU and FDA health and
environmental requirements.

About Helsinn Group

    Helsinn is a privately owned pharmaceutical group with
headquarters in Lugano, Switzerland. Helsinn's unique business model is
focused on the licensing of pharmaceuticals and medical devices in
therapeutic niche areas. The Group in-licenses early stage new chemical
entities, completes their development from the performance of
pre-clinical/clinical studies and Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control (CMC)
development, to the filing for and attainment of their market approval

    Helsinn's products are sold directly, through the Group
subsidiaries, or eventually out-licensed to its network of local marketing
and commercial partners, selected for their deep in-market knowledge and
know-how, and assisted and supported with a full range of product and
scientific management services, including commercial, regulatory, financial,
legal and medical marketing advice.

    The active pharmaceutical ingredients and the finished dosage
forms are manufactured at Helsinn's cGMP facilities in Switzerland and
Ireland, and supplied worldwide to its customers.

    Helsinn is the worldwide licensor of palonosetron, a second
generation 5-HT3 receptor antagonist, for the prevention of
chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) and of post-operative nausea
and vomiting (PONV) in patients with cancer, and of the original nimesulide,
a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) distributed in more than 50
countries worldwide.

    Helsinn, with a workforce of 430 employees in Switzerland and
Ireland, reports an expected 2008 turnover of over 279.5 million CHF,
covering 75 countries worldwide, with over 20% of this turnover invested in

    Dr. Riccardo Braglia, CEO
    Helsinn Healthcare SA, Switzerland
    Phone: +41-91-985-21-21
    E-Mail: [email protected]


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