2023-05-03| Asia-PacificM&A

Astellas Trains Sights On Iveric Bio In $5.9 Billion Acquisition

by Joy Lin
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Astellas Pharma is buying Iveric Bio, an ophthalmology-focused US biopharma, for $5.9 billion in its biggest acquisition. Through Berry Merger Sub, Astellas US’ subsidiary, the Japanese drugmaker will purchase Iveric for $40 per share in cash, representing a 22% premium to Iveric’s last closing price of $32.89. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the second quarter of Astellas’ fiscal year 2023, or the third quarter of 2023.  

Related article: Pfizer Acquires Seagen for $43 Billion to Capture Leading Position in Oncology 

Astellas Homes in on C5 Inhibitor for Geographic Atrophy

New Jersey-based Iveric, formerly known as Ophthotech, discovers and develops treatments for retinal diseases. For Astellas, the addition of Iveric’s pipeline to its portfolio aligns with its high-priority focus on blindness and regeneration therapies.

“We are pleased to reach an agreement with Iveric Bio, a company with exceptional expertise in the R&D of innovative therapeutics in the ophthalmology field,” said Naoki Okamura, President and CEO of Astellas. 

The company has promising programs including Avacincaptad Pegol (ACP) for geographic atrophy (GA) secondary to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and capabilities across the entire value chain in the ophthalmology field, added Okamura.  ACP, branded as Zimura, is a complement C5 inhibitor that inhibits the formation of inflammatory complexes linked to causing retinal cell degeneration. 

In February 2023, Iveric announced the US FDA acceptance of the New Drug Application (NDA) for ACP. The NDA was granted priority review, with a decision date set on August 19, 2023. 

ACP, which has been designated by the FDA as a breakthrough therapy, met its primary endpoints of slowing GA progression in two pivotal clinical trials, with observed efficacy rates of up to 35%. 

Astellas believes that ACP, together with its other assets fezolinetant and PADCEV will become new sources of revenue to offset the expected sales decline of its prostate cancer drug XTANDI due to patent expiration later this decade. 

Besides XTANDI, Astellas is also set to lose market exclusivity on Lexiscan (regadenoson), a drug used in cardiac stress tests, later in 2023 when Lexiscan loses its patent protection. 

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