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Alexion makes $8.4 billion Synageva purchase

Published on 07/05/15 at 10:22am
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Rare disease specialist firm Alexion is splashing out $8.4 billion to buy fellow US orphan drug developer Synageva biopharmaceuticals.

The companies say the deal will create ‘the most robust rare disease pipeline in biotech’, with around eight potential drug candidates for 11 rare disease indications, and more than 30 in the companies’ combined pre-clinical pipeline.

The deal, which is expected to close in mid-2015, means Alexion will offer a per share value of $230. The company expects to be able to make savings and ‘cost synergies’ that could reach $150 million by 2017. The transaction eclipses the previous big-money pharma buy in rare disease – the $5.2 billion move from Shire to buy NPS Pharma.

Alexion is currently heavily reliant on its only product, Soliris (eculizumab), a treatment for two life-threatening ultra-rare disorders: paroxysmal nocturnal haemoglobinuria (PNH) and atypical haemolytic uraemic syndrome (aHUS). Soliris was NICE-approved in aHUS after passing through the watchdog’s highly specialised technologies (HST) assessment system.

It will cost the NHS in England up to £58 million in the first year – rising to £82 million after five years – with an average cost of £330,000 for each of the 20 to 30 patients who are diagnosed every year. Soliris achieved first quarter sales of $600 million in 2015, up 6% year-on-year, and has achieved more than $2 billion in revenues since its launch in 2007.

Acquiring Synageva means Alexion can in the short term add the potential sales of Kanuma, (sebelipase alfa), Synageva’s enzyme replacement therapy for treating Lysosomal Acid Lipase Deficiency (LALD).

It has been granted orphan designation by the FDA – where it has also received breakthrough drug designation – and has been submitted to the EMA and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. Regulatory decisions in the US and Europe are expected in the second half of 2015, following rapid reviews by regulators.

The company is gearing up for the launch of its second product, Strensiq (asfotase alfa), for treating a rare genetic disorder called paediatric-onset hypophosphatasia that is estimated to affect one in every 300,000 children born across Europe.

Alexion chief executive David Hallal says: “Synageva is an outstanding company that shares Alexion’s commitment to serving patients with rare diseases. With strong ongoing Soliris growth worldwide, and the anticipated 2015 global launches of Strensiq and Kanuma, we will accelerate and diversify our revenue growth. We are excited to create the most robust rare disease pipeline in biotech across a range of therapeutic modalities.”

“Alexion is uniquely suited to advance Synageva’s mission to deliver life-saving therapies to patients whose diseases were once considered too rare for developing treatments,” says Sanj Patel, president and chief executive of Synageva. “I am confident that this transaction will help continue to improve the lives of patients with devastating rare diseases for years to come.”

Lilian Anekwe

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