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Horizon bolsters rare disease portfolio with $3bn Viela Bio acquisition

Viela's portfolio of assets includes FDA-approved NMOSD therapy Uplizna

Horizon Therapeutics has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Viela Bio for $3bn, in an effort to strengthen its rare disease portfolio.

Viela Bio spun out of AstraZeneca’s Medimmune biologics unit in 2018 with six molecules and $250m in funding from a number of investors.

Currently, Viela has one US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved asset – Uplizna (inebilizumab-cdon), which is indicated for the treatment of the rare condition neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD).

Viela is also evaluating Uplizna in phase 3 trails in the rare autoimmune neuromuscular disorder myasthenia gravis and in IgG4-related diseases.

Another phase 2 trial is investigating Uplizna for kidney transplantation, although this is currently on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elsewhere in its pipeline, Viela has a number of candidates in ongoing or planned phase 1/2 development – including VIB4920 for Sjögren’s syndrome, VIB7734 for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and monoclonal antibody VIB1116.

Under the terms of the deal, Horizon will acquire all issued and outstanding shares of Viela for $53 per share in cash – representing an equity value of approximately $3.05bn.

“This acquisition represents a significant step forward in advancing our strategy – to expand our pipeline in order to accelerate our growth over the long term,” said Tim Walbert, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Horizon.

“Adding Viela’s research and clinical development capabilities along with its deep, mid-stage biologics pipeline to our seasoned R&D and commercial teams advances our transformation to an innovation-driven biotech company where we will build on the success of Tepezza and Krystexxa to bolster our long-term growth trajectory,” he added.

In January 2020, Horizon received FDA approval for its thyroid eye disease (TED) treatment Tepazza.

Tepezza is the first medicine approved for the rare autoimmune disease, which can cause eye bulging, facial disfigurement and vision loss.

Horizon demonstrated the potential for Tepezza to help these patients in phase 2 and 3 clinical trials that linked the monoclonal antibody to statistically significant reductions in eye bulging.

“We believe that the combined pipeline, including the pursuit of additional potential indications, has the potential to yield innovative new medicines to treat autoimmune and severe inflammatory diseases,” said Bing Yao, chairman and chief executive officer of Viela Bio.

“Our collective R&D expertise, coupled with Horizon’s commercial capabilities, has the potential to provide benefit to more patients with high unmet treatment needs,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

2nd February 2021

From: Sales

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