Amgen gets Horizon acquisition over the line

Amgen gets Horizon acquisition over the line

Amgen has finally closed its $27.8 billion takeover of Horizon Pharma, which was held up for several months by opposition from financial regulators.

The company confirmed that it had completed the $116.50-per-share cash deal after getting approval from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to proceed, provided it meets a number of pre-specified conditions.

Chief executive Robert Bradway said the acquisition was “an exciting milestone” for Amgen and will build on the company’s “strong momentum” in its core business.

The main condition set by the FTC is that Amgen is prohibited from bundling any of its medicines with two of Horizon’s marketed products – Tepezza (teprotumumab) for thyroid eye disease (TED) and chronic refractory gout treatment Krystexxa (pegloticase) – when reaching formulary access agreements with insurers and pharmacies.

In May, the FTC and half a dozen state attorneys general filed a lawsuit seeking to block the takeover, claiming that Amgen would be able to “stifle competition” for Horizon’s drugs, which are the only two FDA-approved drugs for the conditions they treat. The suit was settled last month.

Getting the merger over the line will be a relief to the pharma sector, which has been growing increasingly concerned about antitrust intervention in its M&A transactions.

Sales of Tepezza reached $851 million in the first half of 2023, a slight decline on the same period of 2022, ahead of new approvals and trial readouts expected to restore growth, including an FDA green light for use of the drug to treat TED regardless of disease activity or duration.

Meanwhile, Krystexxa grew 40% to $431 million, setting it on course for blockbuster sales. Analysts said the addition of the drugs would help support Amgen’s “maturing” product portfolio while it works on bringing new drugs to market.

Along with Tepezza and Krystexxa, the merger also gives Amgen rights to Uplizna (inebilizumab), a drug for neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) that Horizon acquired when it bought Viela Bio in 2021, and grew 76% to $122 million in the first half.

Amgen said the merger would strengthen its inflammation portfolio and would lift its adjusted earnings per share from 2024 onwards.

Amgen’s products in inflammation include severe asthma therapy Tezspire (tezepelumab) and Otezla (apremilast) for psoriasis, as well as various pipeline candidates, such as rocatinlimab for atopic dermatitis and biosimilars.

9 October, 2023