Two companies will pay Emory University $525 million for the institution's royalty rights on emtricitabine, a drug used to treat HIV, under a deal announced  Monday.
Gilead Sciences will pay 65 percent of the total and Royalty Pharma will pay 35 percent. While the deal is being described as a cash payment, it also gives Emory and some other investors the rigth to acquire interests in Royal Pharma that are worth about 25 percent of the payments due by the company.
Emtricitabine was discovered by three Emory researchers -- Dennis C. Liotta , Raymond F. Schinazi  and Woo-Baeg Choi -- in 1996. Liotta is a professor of chemistry. Schinazi is a professor of pediatrics and director of the Laboratory of Biochemical Pharmacology. Choi founded a pharmaceutical company in 2000.
After the researchers discovered the drug, they licensed it to Triangle Pharmaceuticals, which was purchased by Gilead in 2003. Also in 2003, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the sale of emtricitabine, marketed by Gilead as Emtriva, as an HIV treatment.
Under the intellectual property agreement in effect at Emory at the time of the discovery, most of the funds in the deal will go the university, with portions specified for the central administration and various divisions, including the laboratories where the work was done. Those labs were based in Emory's medical school and chemistry department. A minority share of the proceeds will go to the researchers.