AstraZeneca (AZ) has signed another pipeline-boosting deal, agreeing to buy blood lipid disorder (dyslipidaemia) specialist Omthera Pharmaceuticals of the US for up to $443m.
If finalised, AZ will take control of the drug candidate Epanova, which has completed phase III testing and is ready for regulatory submissions to treat elevated blood triglycerides.
Epanova is an omega-3 free fatty acid composition that has been shown to bolster levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) significantly in the blood. In trials, the product has been shown to reduce triglyceride levels and improve other blood lipid profiles and is due to be filed for approval for severe hypertriglyceridemia in the coming weeks.
If approved, Epanova would compete in the marketplace against BASF/Pronova's Omacor/Lovaza, an omega-3 fatty acid product that achieved end-user sales of around $1.4bn in 2011 and is sold by Abbott Laboratories in the US and various companies including GlaxoSmithKline, Grupo Ferrer and Pierre Fabre in Europe.
Epanova has one potential advantage over Omacor in that it does not need to be taken with meals, and can be dosed at either 2g or 4g once a day. Labelling for Omacor indicates it should be dosed at 4g per day, either in a single dose or two 2g doses.
Under the terms of the deal, AZ is offering $12.70 per share for Omthera, which is an 88 per cent premium on Omthera's closing share price on May 24 and values the firm at around $323m. Potential milestones related to sales could drive the tally paid by AZ up by another $120m.