At #JPM23, another rare disease buyout as Ipsen acquires Albireo for $952M
Before most JPMers arose Monday morning, Ipsen announced that it is buying rare disease biotech Albireo Pharma.
That’s the second deal disclosed Monday morning, along with AstraZeneca grabbing cardiovascular upstart CinCor Pharma. With the Chiesi-Amryt rare disease deal from Sunday night, that’s three M&A announcements to kick off the annual healthcare investment banking conference, albeit the trio of deals is relatively small in size, with none surpassing $2 billion.
Paris-based Ipsen is dishing out $952 million in cash to get Boston-based Albireo and its US- and EU-approved liver disease drug Bylvay. The medicine is approved for treating pruritus in all subtypes of progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis, and the biotech secured $115 million in exchange for royalties back in September.
The Albireo acquisition comes in at $42 per share $ALBO, a premium of about 104% compared to the biotech’s 1-month volume-weighted average price prior to the announcement. That’s slightly above a 5-year peak in December 2020 at just above $40 per share. Shares skyrocketed nearly 92% in pre-market trading Monday.
Another $10 per share can come Albireo’s way if the biotech gets an expanded label for Bylvay, that is, if the FDA greenlights the drug for biliary atresia, which is when the bile transport tunnel between the liver and gallbladder is blocked.
At the time of the last quarterly earnings, Albireo said it had enough cash to keep the lights on into 2024, with $272.5 million at the end of September.
The biotech expected $24 million in Bylvay sales in 2022. At the time of the summer 2021 approval, analysts pegged peak sales of $762 million in 2026. The once-daily oral drug was also sent to the FDA and European regulators in December for a second indication: Alagille syndrome, in which there aren’t enough bile ducts to drain the digestive fluid.
“Our talented team at Albireo have advanced the first Phase III studies in three different pediatric liver diseases while discovering two promising new clinical stage bile acid modulators,” Albireo CEO and president Ron Cooper said in a statement. “We believe that Ipsen is well positioned to apply its global R&D and commercial capabilities to make these medicines available to more cholestatic liver disease patients and accelerate the mission of providing hope for families.”
Ipsen also gets Phase II adult cholestatic liver disease assets A3907 and A2342, a preclinical candidate for viral and cholestatic diseases.
Albireo’s exit follows a similar path to other AstraZeneca spin-outs. Albireo came out of the UK Big Pharma in 2008. Another offshoot, Viela Bio, was snapped up by Horizon Therapeutics for about $3 billion in 2021. And Aristea was acquired for a much smaller amount from Arena Pharmaceuticals in 2021.
Albireo went public in November 2016 through a reverse merger with Connecticut biotech Biodel.
The deal marks Ipsen’s second in two years, as the biopharma swooped in to buy Epizyme for $247 million in cash last summer after the biotech was ghosted by two dozen oncology companies.