Coming out of Chapter 11, Aegerion jumps into welcome arms of Irish pharma with big plans, fresh $60M for its drugs
Amryt Pharma didn’t make much of a splash in May when it struck a deal to acquire Novelion’s Aegerion subsidiary, absorbing two commercial drugs and a US infrastructure in an all-stock deal. But now that the transaction has been wrapped, the Dublin-based company is ready to bring some renewed attention to it — as well as a fresh $60 million raise.
The financing allows Amryt to continue rolling out Myalepta in Europe while also taking over global responsibilities for the drug (known as Myalept in the US), which treats lipodystrophy, and a homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia therapy called Juxtapid/Lojuxta. Amryt has been marketing Lojuxta in Europe.
Novelion, which has been sorting through some management issues under interim chief Ben Harshbarger, is taking an 8.9% stake in AIM-listed Amryt as a result. Athyrium Capital Management (27.2%), Highbridge Capital Management (8.2%), Software AG-Stiftung (6.5%), UBS O’Connor (5.4%) and AXA Investment Management (4.1%) also participated.
Aegerion was a “great business with a broken balance sheet,” Amryt CEO Joe Wiley told Endpoints News in a preview, which called for a Chapter 11 restructuring declared back in May.
Having spent the past three months in Boston combing through the complex deal with his Aegerion counterparts, Wiley is happy to say now that it’s all fixed. The combined entity is no longer saddled with debt, and he looks forward to creating some “expense synergies” through the integration.
That will involve moving some back office jobs from the expensive stateside biotech hub to Dublin — where the cost of recruitment could be 50% to 70% lower — though Wiley declined to specify numbers.
Nevertheless, a commercial presence in the US will be critical as Amryt capitalizes on two treatments that rank among the most expensive on the planet and delivered total revenue of $136.5 million in 2018. Being able to convey the medical message and position the drugs for the right patient population has been one of their strong suits since launching in 2014, Wiley said, citing how they navigated the HoFH landscape dominated by PCSK9 drugs.
He’s also eyeing some growth through life cycle management, with plans to go back to the FDA seeking a label expansion for Myalept to include partial lipodystrophy.
Then there is another asset in the pipeline that Amryt acquired in 2016 — AP101 for epidermolysis bullosa, which renders patients’ skin as fragile as butterflies’ wings. That asset is now in a Phase III study, with a readout expected next year that would serve as a litmus test on Wiley’s eye for experimental therapies.
“We’re not a research-based company, we don’t have labs anywhere,” he said. “We’re a transactional company where we’re set up to acquire and develop and commercialize.”