AstraZeneca’s ZS-9 setback last month did Relypsa a favor: It handed Veltassa sole control of the hyperkalemia market, at least for now.
That couldn’t have hurt Relypsa’s chances to sell itself at a good price–and now, the specialty pharma Galenica has snapped up the California-based drugmaker in a $1.53 billion cash deal.
Swiss-based Galenica will pay $32 per share for Relypsa, gaining a U.S. commercial organization as well as full rights to Veltassa, which treats high potassium levels in patients with chronic kidney disease. Relypsa’s operations will fold into Galenica’s Vifor Pharma unit, which is set for a spinoff sometime before 2019.
It’s an opportunity for Vifor to build up its sales in advance of that planned listing, announced in 2014. The unit brought in 967 million Swiss francs in 2015, more than one-fourth of Galenica’s overall 3.79 billion. Vifor already owns rights to the drug outside the U.S., and sells another potassium binder, Velphoro, in addition to the iron deficiency drug Ferinject, which grew sales to 250 million francs last year on expansion in the U.S.
Some analysts see Veltassa as a potential blockbuster, and the drug’s chances at breaking the $1 billion barrier are certainly better than they were earlier this year, when AstraZeneca’s ZS-9 was expected to hit the market hot on Relypsa’s heels. At the time, some analysts figured Veltassa would peak far lower, at $200 million in sales.
Now that the FDA has rejected ZS-9, Veltassa has more time to grab share before facing head-to-head competition. Not necessarily scads of time–the agency’s rebuff stemmed from manufacturing problems that needed fixing, rather than data shortfalls. But extending its first-to-market advantage even by a few months gives Veltassa a chance to dig in.
Plus, Sanofi is co-marketing Veltassa, in a deal that put the French drugmaker’s experienced renal reps behind the drug, in addition to Relypsa’s own 120-rep strong salesforce.
The Relypsa buyout speaks to Vifor’s overriding goal of building up its cardio-renal business in advance of the planned spinoff. The company previously teamed up with Fresenius on Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma to the same end, and last year inked a deal for U.S. rights to Roche’s iron deficiency drug Mircera, commonly used by kidney patients.
Acquiring Relypsa will “enhance the commercial visibility and presence of Vifor Pharma in the key renal market in the United States, where Relypsa has already established a significant and powerful specialist sales force,” Galenica said in announcing the deal. Combining Vifor Pharma, the Fresenius venture and Relypsa puts Vifor in a position “to become a major player in the United States in its core therapy areas.”
By Tracy Staton
Source: Fierce Pharma
Airnov provides critical healthcare industries with high-quality, controlled atmosphere packaging, to protect their products from moisture and oxygen. The business has manufacturing facilities in the USA, France, China and India and employs around 700 people.
Takeda of Japan has partnered with Hong Kong-based Hutchmed, gaining the commercial rights to colorectal cancer drug fruquintinib outside of China for $400 million up front, plus $730 million in potential milestone payments. Takeda also will help develop fruquintinib, which can be applied to subtypes of refractory metastatic colorectal cancer, regardless of biomarker status, the companies said.
On April 3, Scangos, who’s been chief executive officer at Vir since the start of 2017, will hand over the reins to Marianne De Backer, Ph.D. De Backer comes over from Bayer, where she currently heads up pharmaceutical strategy, business development and licensing. Alongside her CEO appointment, De Backer is set to join Vir’s board of directors, the company said Wednesday.