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Lundbeck bolts on migraine drug via $1.95bn deal to buy Alder

Continues to bulk up its pipeline

Lundbeck

Denmark’s Lundbeck has made another foray into M&A, buying Alder BioPharma and its late-stage migraine drug eptinezumab for $1.95bn.

Lundbeck is offering $18 per share for Alder, with another $2 in the offing if eptinezumab gets approval by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Its due to be filed in Europe next year, but is already under regulatory review in the US, with an FDA decision due in February.

Eptinezumab is one of the new migraine prevention drugs in the CGRP inhibitor class, but unlike already-marketed rivals from Amgen/Novartis, Eli Lilly and Teva, it is delivered intravenously rather than by subcutaneous injection.

Alder’s drug is given every three months, whereas Amgen’s Aimovig (erenumab) and Lilly’s Emgality (galcanezumab) are taken once a month and Teva’s Ajovy (fremanezumab) is dosed either once a month or every quarter.

It’s not clear whether the IV route will win favour with physicians, although it will provide another option and Alder has suggested its rapid onset of action could be a key differentiating factor.

Lundbeck clearly agrees, saying the drug provides “immediate and complete bioavailability with high specificity and strong binding for suppression of…CGRP”. The deal also gives it a follow-up drug for migraine prevention – PACAP inhibitor ALD1910 – which is in preclinical development.

As eptinezumab will be the fourth CGRP inhibitor to market if approved, it will have a lot of catching up to do, although the lead drugs are still only just starting to gain traction in the marketplace after a slow start caused by payer resistance.

First-to-market Aimovig brought in $83m in sales the second quarter, followed by $34m for Emgality and $23m for Ajovy.

The move for Alder comes as Lundbeck – a specialist in central nervous system disease therapies – is trying to bulk up its product pipeline to help it cope with patent expiries for mature products like epilepsy therapies Onfi (clobazam) and Sabril (vigabatrin) and antidepressant Cipralex (escitalopram).

It’s also had some late-stage pipeline setbacks, including treatment-resistant schizophrenia therapy Lu AF35700 and Alzheimer’s candidate idalopirdine, that have left its pipeline in need of a top up.

The acquisition of Alder comes after Lundbeck bought Abide Therapeutics for $400m earlier this year – adding mid-stage drug candidate ABX-1431 for Tourette’s syndrome – and last year’s $1b purchase of Prexton Therapeutics and phase 2 Parkinson’s disease therapy foliglurax.

Lundbeck hasn’t traditionally been a particularly active player in M&A, preferring to rely mainly on its in-house R&D and smaller-scale licensing deals, but has stepped up the pace of deals under new CEO Deborah Dunsire (pictured below).

Deb Dunsire

Deborah Dunsire, CEO, Lundbeck

Dunsire said Alder is “an excellent strategic fit for Lundbeck’s focused expertise in brain diseases and organisational capabilities”.

Article by
Phil Taylor

16th September 2019

From: Sales

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