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Shire buys rare-disease firm NPS Pharma

Published on 12/01/15 at 10:58am
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Shire is to acquire rare diseases firm NPS Pharma to enhance its profile following the collapse of its deal with AbbVie.

The $5.2 billion transaction has been approved unanimously by the boards of both companies, and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2015.

“Shire will accelerate the growth of NPS Pharma’s innovative portfolio through its market expertise in gastrointestinal disorders, core capabilities in rare disease patient management, and global footprint,” the Irish firm says in a statement.

NPS is a rare disease specialist whose first product Revestive (teduglutide), marketed as Gattex in the US, is approved in the US and Europe for the treatment of patients who have had part of their intestines removed and are dependent on IV feeding support.

The drug generated $67.9 million in sales in the nine months ending 30 September 2014, showing strong growth from sales of $11.0 million for the same period in 2013. Gattex has therefore been a key driver for NPS, which otherwise made a loss of $2.1 million in the last quarter.

Shire’s chief executive Flemming Ornskov adds: “The acquisition of NPS Pharma is a significant step in advancing Shire’s strategy to become a leading biotechnology company. With our global strength and expertise in both rare diseases and GI, Shire is uniquely positioned to drive the continued success of Gattex, and, if approved, commercialise NPS Pharma’s pipeline compound Natpara.”

Natpara (rhPTH -83) is currently under review in the US and Europe for the treatment of the rare endocrine disease hypoparathyroidism (HPT). If approved, it would be the only bioengineered hormone replacement therapy available for the condition.

NPS also has several partnerships in place with companies including Amgen and Janssen, and earned royalty revenues of $123.8 million in 2013. Meanwhile, a Phase IIa study is evaluating the candidate compound NPSP795 for the treatment of the blood disease autosomal dominant hypocalcemia.

In its statement Shire adds that it hopes the transaction will enhance its revenue and earnings growth profile. The deal comes in the wake of US giant AbbVie backing out of buying Shire after tax law changes in the US, and the Irish firm receiving a break fee of around $1.6 billion as a result.

George Underwood

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