Almirall eyes pipeline expansion with €200m funding
Spanish pharma Almirall has closed a €200 million share capital raise that will be used in part to close pipeline-boosting activities – including bolt-on acquisitions and in-licensing deals – that it says are already being considered.
The Gallardo family – which holds a majority stake in the dermatology specialist – participated in the offering, raising its ownership fractionally to 60.14% of its share capital.
The financing comes after a somewhat turbulent period for Almirall, which said goodbye to its former chief executive Gianfranco Nazzi last November, with his role at the company taken on by board chairman Carlos Gallardo on an interim basis.
Earlier this year, it was confirmed that Gallardo would continue in the role for an extended period, and the search for a new CEO had been suspended.
Nazzi had only been at the helm for around 18 months, joining the company from Teva amid much fanfare in 2022, but quit to pursue other opportunities without further explanation. Gallardo was named chairman in May 2022, succeeding his father Jorge, so there have been big changes in leadership in the last year or so.
The pledge to spend on business development continues Almirall’s efforts to extend its pipeline in recent years, with its latest major transaction a $507 million licensing deal last September with China’s Simcere Pharma that brought in an IL-2 drug with potential in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
During Nazzi’s short tenure, the drugmaker also signed an R&D alliance with Evotec to find new drug targets in inflammatory skin diseases and skin cancers, licensed a programme running at France’s Inserm research institute looking at treatments for vitiligo, and agreed a deal with Ablexis to use its antibody development platform in therapeutics.
The fundraising comes as Almirall is on the brink of its most important product launch for several years, anti-IL-13 antibody lebrikizumab, which it developed alongside Eli Lilly, and which has been filed for EU approval as a treatment for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis.
A decision from the EMA is expected in the second half of the year. Meanwhile, in the US, Lilly filed for approval of lebrikizumab last November, and is expecting approval and launch of the drug there before the end of the year.
Evaluate Pharma has previously said that annual sales for lebrikizumab could peak at a level of around $1.5 billion in 2028.
Almirall’s total revenues last year were around $950 million. It has predicted a fall in earnings for the current year as some of its products continue to feel the effects of increased generic competition in the US.