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AstraZeneca offers $443m to buy Omthera

Adds to list of deals to boost flagging pipeline

AstraZeneca offers $443m to buy Omthera

AstraZeneca (AZ) has signed another pipeline-boosting deal, agreeing to buy blood lipid disorder (dyslipidaemia) specialist Omthera Pharmaceuticals of the US for up to $443m.

If finalised, AZ will take control of the drug candidate Epanova, which has completed phase III testing and is ready for regulatory submissions to treat elevated blood triglycerides.

Epanova is an omega-3 free fatty acid composition that has been shown to bolster levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) significantly in the blood. In trials, the product has been shown to reduce triglyceride levels and improve other blood lipid profiles and is due to be filed for approval for severe hypertriglyceridemia in the coming weeks.

If approved, Epanova would compete in the marketplace against BASF/Pronova's Omacor/Lovaza, an omega-3 fatty acid product that achieved end-user sales of around $1.4bn in 2011 and is sold by Abbott Laboratories in the US and various companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Grupo Ferrer and Pierre Fabre in Europe.

Epanova has one potential advantage over Omacor in that it does not need to be taken with meals, and can be dosed at either 2g or 4g once a day. Labelling for Omacor indicates it should be dosed at 4g per day, either in a single dose or two 2g doses.

Under the terms of the deal, AZ is offering $12.70 per share for Omthera, which is an 88 per cent premium on Omthera's closing share price on May 24 and values the firm at around $323m. Potential milestones related to sales could drive the tally paid by AZ up by another $120m.

AZ also wants to accelerate the regulatory filings for the product, saying it will file supplemental marketing applications "as soon as possible" for Epanova in mixed dyslipidaemia and as a fixed-dose combination with its $6bn-plus statin drug Crestor (rosuvastatin).

The pharma major plans to carry out a large-scale cardiovascular outcomes trial for Epanova in combination with statins to see whether the combination can help the rising number of people with elevated triglycerides – generally a result of obesity and/ or diabetes – who are at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

AZ has been actively sourcing development assets in recent months as it tries to bolster a somewhat sparse product pipeline. In the month of April alone it signed a $200m deal with Bind Therapeutics for a cancer drug, a personalised medicine alliance with Oxford Cancer Biomarkers and bought US biotech AlphaCore Pharma.

28th May 2013

From: Research, Sales

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