Amryt to expand rare disease portfolio with $311m Aegerion merger

Rare disease specialist Amryt Pharma plans to expand its rare disease portfolio with the acquisition of troubled Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, a division of Canada’s Novelion.

Aegerion holds US rights to lomitapide, a rare disease drug used to treat the inherited cholesterol disorder homozygous familial hypercholesterolaemia, branded in the US as Juxtapid.

It makes sense for Amryt to make the acquisition as it already holds rights to lomitapide, branded as Lojuxta, in the EU and certain other countries including Russia.

The acquisition will also add Myalept (metreleptin) to Amryt’s portfolio, approved in the US for generalised lipodystrophy, and generalised and partial forms of the disease in the EU.

UK-based Amryt has been looking to make an acquisition to bolster its rare disease portfolio after it was founded in 2015 by former Astellas medical director Joe Wiley and financier Rory Nealon.

Under the acquisition terms Aegerion will reverse into Amryt in a takeover valuing the companies at $190.7 million and $120 million respectively.

Amryt shareholders could receive further payouts in the form of “Contingent Value Rights” worth up to $85 million, if the company achieves certain development goals with its AP101 for epidermolysis bullosa.

Amryt aims to raise $60m in equity to fund the deal, which will also see Aegerion’s balance sheet restructured through the US Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.

The combined group’s global HQ will be in Dublin, Ireland with its US HQ in Boston, Massachusetts, and the combined group will be re-admitted to the AIM and Euronext Growth markets on closing, with a planned dual listing on the Nasdaq.

The deal could also help Novelion move on from the legal problems that have beset Aegerion, which got into serious trouble with US authorities because of some shady marketing practices for Juxtapid.

In late 2017 Aegerion had to pay the US government more than $35 million, in a civil, criminal, and administrative settlement to the US government for a raft of infringements including failure to comply with an FDA-mandated risk reduction strategy, and causing false claims to be submitted to federal health care schemes.

Joe Wiley

Amryt’s CEO Wiley said: “The acquisition of Aegerion accelerates our ambition to become a global leader in treating rare conditions to help improve the lives of patients where there is a high unmet medical need. By delivering two substantial revenue-generating products and an enhanced pipeline of promising development opportunities, this will significantly strengthen our growth in highly attractive markets globally.”

The deal has already been unanimously backed by the boards of Amryt, Novelion, and Aegerion, and is endorsed by 34.3% of Amryt’s shareholders and in excess of 67% of Aegerion’s bondholders.

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