AstraZeneca to acquire Omthera Pharmaceuticals

Building on its cardiovascular portfolio

AstraZeneca has agreed to buy Omthera Pharmaceuticals, a specialist pharmaceutical firm based in Princeton, New Jersey, for approximately US$443m, to expand its cardiovascular drug business.

Omthera focuses on the development of new therapies for dyslipidemia, or abnormal levels of lipids in the blood.

The firm’s experimental drug is Epanova, a coated soft gelatin capsule containing a complex mixture of polyunsaturated free fatty acids derived from fish oils. It boosts levels of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in the blood and in studies has been shown to reduce triglyceride levels and improve other key lipid parameters. It is expected to increase convenience for patients by providing both two and four gram once-a-day doses with or without meals.

AstraZeneca will buy Omthera for $12.70 per share, or approximately $323m. In addition to the cash payment, each Omthera shareholder will receive Contingent Value Rights (CVRs) of up to approximately $4.70 per share, equating to approximately $120m in total, if milestones related to Epanova are achieved, or if a milestone related to global net sales is achieved. This will take the total potential acquisition cost to approximately $443m.

Omthera is expected to file a new drug application (NDA) in the US for Epanova in mid-2013 for patients with severe hypertriglyceridemia (triglyceride levels greater than or equal to 500mg/dL).

This is an exciting acquisition that clearly complements our existing portfolio in cardiovascular and metabolic disease, one of our core therapy areas

AstraZeneca aims to file a supplemental NDA as soon as possible for Epanova as a treatment for patients with mixed dyslipidemia (triglyceride levels of 200–499mg/dl), as well as in a fixed dose combination with Crestor (rosuvastatin calcium) for mixed dyslipidemia patients at high risk of a heart attack. AstraZeneca said it would carry out a large-scale trial for Epanova in combination with statins.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive of AstraZeneca, said: ‘The number of people with elevated triglyceride levels is rising rapidly across the world, due in part to the increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes. There is a clear need for effective and convenient alternatives to some of the existing treatments.

‘Epanova offers real potential both as a distinctive monotherapy for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia and in combination with Crestor for patients at high risk of adverse cardiovascular events. This is an exciting acquisition that clearly complements our existing portfolio in cardiovascular and metabolic disease, one of our core therapy areas.’

The transaction is expected to close in Q3 this year.

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