Sector News

UCB strikes $2.5B deal to buy Ra for rival to Alexion’s Soliris

October 10, 2019
Life sciences

UCB Pharma has struck a $2.5 billion (€2.2 billion) deal to acquire Ra Pharmaceuticals. The takeover will give UCB control of a phase 3 rival to Alexion’s Soliris that some analysts have tipped to rack up blockbuster sales.

Ra is focused on a once-daily, self-administered, subcutaneous C5 inhibitor called zilucoplan. The peptide moved into phase 3 in myasthenia gravis earlier this month on the strength of midphase data suggesting it may pose a threat to Alexion’s claim on the indication and its broader stranglehold on the market for complement-mediated disease therapies.

UCB, which has its own phase 3 myasthenia gravis asset, sees zilucoplan as a good fit for the growth plan it set out at the start of the year. To acquire the drug, UCB has put together a deal worth $48 a share, a more than 100% premium over Ra’s closing price yesterday.

That premium, which results in a deal worth $2.5 billion, or $2.1 billion net of Ra’s cash, reflects the belief that zilucoplan can generate blockbuster sales. Jefferies analysts think U.S. sales of zilucoplan in myasthenia gravis will top out at around $630 million, powering the therapy to worldwide peak sales in excess of $1 billion and leading them to back UCB’s decision to strike the deal.

“[Myasthenia gravis] is a space UCB knows well, and with zilucoplan’s potential the proposed deal makes strategic sense,” the analysts wrote.

UCB’s knowledge of the myasthenia gravis space stems from its development of rozanolixizumab, an anti-FcRn antibody that is in phase 3 development in the indication. The overlap between UCB and Ra’s pipelines could create antitrust issues given the difficulties Bristol-Myers Squibb and Roche have faced in their acquisitions of Celgene and Spark Therapeutics, respectively.

However, UCB expects the deal to close without incident by the end of the first quarter of 2020. The Jefferies analysts said UCB’s confidence is based on differences between the mechanisms of action of zilucoplan and rozanolixizumab, which the pharma company thinks makes the drugs complementary rather than competitive.

If the deal closes, UCB will take zilucoplan to key readouts. Data from the phase 3 myasthenia gravis trial are due early in 2021. By then, UCB should have data from a phase 2 trial of zilucoplan in immune-mediated necrotizing myopathy that is due to start soon. Ra is also developing an extended release formulation of zilucoplan and an oral C5 inhibitor that are due to enter the clinic next year.

By Nick Paul Taylor

Source: Fierce Biotech

comments closed

Related News

November 28, 2021

Founder-led biotech is making space for ideas—and diverse leaders—where it didn’t exist before

Life sciences

Decades ago, the founder-led biotech was rare and considered the tougher path to follow. Now there is a trend of founder-led biotechs that have risen in prominence in recent years, going from startup to well known with lightning speed. Scientists-turned C-suite occupants know their technology inside out. They’ve got credibility both at the bench working with their research teams and in the boardrooms selling their future products.

November 28, 2021

Pfizer to become $100B behemoth next year thanks to COVID-19 drug and vaccine: analyst

Life sciences

Pfizer’s revenue could reach $101.3 billion in 2022, with major contributions coming from the company’s BioNTech-partnered COVID vaccine and an antiviral therapeutic that has shown stellar clinical data, SVB Leerink analyst Geoffrey Porges projected in a Monday note to clients.

November 28, 2021

GlaxoSmithKline takes aim at sick pay access inequities with microgrant program and new campaign

Life sciences

In a survey commissioned by GlaxoSmithKline’s consumer health division of 2,000 working people in the U.S., almost 70% admitted to clocking in while sick, often because they couldn’t afford to lose a day’s pay. Black and Latina women were 10% more likely than white women to shun taking sick time for fear of fallout from their boss, according to the company’s 2021 Temperature Check Report.

Send this to a friend