Allergan Is Bullish on Biotech

Ever since Allergan (NYSE: AGN) completed the $40.5 billion sale of its generics business to Teva Pharmaceutical Industries (NYSE: TEVA) on August 2, the pharma giant is targeting biotech companies with a vengeance.

In September alone (and we’re only talking about three weeks at this point), the company has announced four deals, totalling $1.28 billion. Year-to-date, Allergan has announced nine transactions for a total of $1.67 billion, more than Pfizer’s (NYSE: PFE) seven deals but far behind the $19.8 billion Pfizer committed to those transactions. (Pfizer’s biggest deal this year, the $13.5 billion acquisition of Medivation (NASDAQ: MDVN), was announced in August.)

Allergan’s biggest buy in September (so far), at $639 milllion, is Vitae Pharmaceuticals, a privately held clinical-stage company developing  product candidates for the treatment of psoriasis, other autoimmune disorders and atopic dermatitis. Allergan agreed to an all-cash offer of $21.00 per share.

This acquisition strengthens Allergan’s medical dermatology pipeline with VTP-43742, a Phase 2 first-in-class, orally active RORγt inhibitor for the potential treatment of psoriasis and other autoimmune disorders. It also adds VTP-38453, a topical LXRβ selective agonist for the potential treatment of atopic dermatitis, currently in a Phase 2a proof-of-concept trial.

The most-talked about of Allergan’s recent deals is the acquisition of Tobira Therapeutics (NASDAQ: TBRA), a clinical-stage biopharma focused on the development and commercialization of therapeutics and treatments for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and other liver diseases.

Allergan is paying $28.35 per TBRA share in cash, and up to $49.84 per share in Contingent Value Rights that may be payable based on the successful completion of certain  milestones, for a total consideration of up to $1.695 billion. Just the upfront payment alone, $533.5 million, translates to 456x revenue.

The acquisition adds Cenicriviroc and Evogliptin, two differentiated, complementary development programs for the treatment of the multi-factorial elements of NASH, to Allergan’s gastroenterology R&D pipeline.

A day after the Tobira deal was announced, Allergan added another NASH-focused company, privately held Akarna Therapeutics Ltd., which develops novel small molecule therapeutics that targeted inflammatory and fibrotic diseases. Its lead product candidate, AKN-083, is in pre-clinical, IND-enabling toxicology and safety pharmacology studies. The price was a modest $50 million in cash.

Early in September, Allergan added RetroSense Therapeutics, LLC, a clinical-stage biotech  working on gene therapy approaches to restore vision in blind patients. Its lead development program is RST-001, a novel gene therapy for the potential treatment of retinitis pigmentosa.

The $60 million, all-cash transaction gives Allergan global rights to RST-001, which received Orphan Drug Designation in 2014 from the  FDA for the treatment of retinitis pigmentosa. In August 2015, RetroSense’s IND application for RST-001 received clearance from the FDA. In March 2016, RetroSense initiated a Phase 1-2a clinical trial to evaluate the safety of RST-001 in patients being dosed, and in August 2016, the low dose cohort of patients had been safely dosed.

The month hasn’t closed yet, and neither has Allergan’s checkbook, we’re betting.

 

 

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