Drug Development

Polaris cashes in its chips as Langer-backed Arsia is auctioned off to Eagle for up to $78M

Robert Langer, photo credit: Chemical Heritage Foundation

Robert Langer, photo credit: Chemical Heritage Foundation

Recently frustrated in its attempt to win a regulatory approval at the FDA, Eagle Pharmaceuticals $EGRX has swooped in to buy Polaris-backed Arsia Therapeutics for a relatively modest upfront payment. The deal comes with the services of Arsia’s scientific co-founders, MIT’s high profile drug delivery specialist Bob Langer and Alexander Klibanov, who are signing on as advisers to the new owners.

Arsia is going for $30 million up front; $27.3 million in cash and another $2.7 million in stock. And Woodcliff Lake, NJ-based Eagle added $48 million in potential milestones.

As part of this deal, Arsia’s scientific team is being transferred to Eagle, which is keeping the biotech’s presence in the Cambridge, MA hub.

Eagle has a market cap of $1.3 billion.

Scott Tarriff, Eagle CEO

Scott Tarriff, Eagle CEO

Langer has long specialized in advancing new technologies designed to improve therapies through reformulation. In this case, Arsia— helmed by Pfizer vet and Polaris partner Amy Schulman — dealt with the viscosity of biologics; creating condensed therapies that are easier to administer. By reformulating these drugs Arsia — now Eagle — expects to make it possible to deliver them through subcutaneous injection rather than more difficult IV approaches.

That tech drew the attention of Biogen $BIIB, which partnered with Arsia on its hemophilia drugs, which are being spun out into a new company.

That tech also fits well into Eagle’s plans to come up with so-called biobetters, new and improved versions of some high earners in the field. Last spring the FDA rejected Eagle’s application for a quick-use version of the anticoagulant Angiomax.

Importantly, Arsia currently has several early-stage partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. “We plan to partner with key biosimilar companies to help alter their existing pipelines into biobetters. This is a natural extension of Eagle’s business model, applied to the biologics space,” stated Scott Tarriff, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eagle.

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