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Allergan stumps up $375m for bolt-on acquisitions

Firm has recently added two migraine drugs and Oculeve to its portfolio

Allergan logoAllergan's acquisitive streak shows no signs of abating, with the company adding two migraine drugs from Merck & Co and eye disease specialist Oculeve to its portfolio in the last few days.

Fresh from its $70bn takeover by Actavis (which promptly assumed its name), Allergan will pay $250m upfront to take over ownership of two calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) receptor antagonists in mid-stage clinical development at Merck as migraine therapies.

The agreement to acquire Oculeve includes $125m upfront - plus undisclosed milestone payments - and gives Allergan a pipeline of ophthalmic therapies including OD-01, a nasal neurostimulation device that increases tear production in patients with dry eye disease.

The deal with Merck covers MK-1602 and MK-8031, both of which are orally active, small molecule CGRP antagonists for the acute treatment of migraines. MK-1602 is the furthest along in development with a phase II trial completed and phase III due to start early next year, while MK-8031 will start phase II in the coming months.

The two drugs are in the same class as Merck's ill-fated telcagepant - which was dropped from development in 2011 after showing signs of liver toxicity - but have a different chemical structure and have not shown aby evidence of liver damage in clinical trials to date. 

They are in a race to market with other CGRP antagonists such as Teva's TEV-48125 - which is also due to start phase III shortly - as well as candidates from Amgen, Eli Lilly and Alder Biopharmaceuticals. These are all antibody-based drugs however so will be delivered by injection rather than orally.

Allergan said acquiring MK-1602 and MK-8301 builds on its established strength in central nervous system drugs and helps position it as "a potential leader in the acute treatment of migraine and prevention of migraine for millions of patients."

Meanwhile, the Oculeve deal "adds novel, complementary dry eye development programmes to Allergan's current eye care R&D," said the company. Oculeve has already completed four clinical studies of the OD-01 device in more than 200 patients and Allergan says it will conduct two further trials prior to FDA submission, which is expected in 2016 with a possible launch in 2017.

Allergan already sells a number of dry eye therapies including its Refresh range of lubricant eye drops. The condition is estimated to affect in the region of 25 million people in the US.

Article by
Phil Taylor

9th July 2015

From: Sales



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