Lundbeck to acquire Alder, and migraine drug, for $1.95bn

Lundbeck is to acquire Alder BioPharmaceuticals and its late-stage migraine drug eptinezumab in a deal worth up to $1.95 billion.

The Danish pharma is to buy Alder for $18 per share in cash, along with a non-tradeable contingent value right entitling shareholders to up to $2 per share upon approval of eptinezumab by the European Medicines Agency.

The acquisition is the first big decision taken by Lundbeck’s new CEO Deborah Dunsire, who in July took over the position left vacant after Kare Schultz went to Teva.

There are doubts about the potential of eptinezumab but the deal does make sense for the Danish pharma, which already has a strong background in neurology and mental health medicines.

The last in a gang of four calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) drugs in development, Alder has decided to develop eptinezumab as an intravenous drug that is administered in hospital instead of using pens where patients administer doses themselves.

While the self-administered rivals from Amgen/Novartis, Eli Lilly, and Teva that are already on the market may have an advantage in terms of convenience, Alder hopes its IV drug will be more popular with payers.

If approved, eptinezumab will be funded as a medical benefit, and Alder’s CEO Bob Azelby has said this could allow payers to dodge many of the upfront costs incurred with the rivals.

Based in Bothell, near Seattle in Washington State, Alder has also been making great play of the fast response seen with eptinezumab, although whether this will convince payers and prescribers in a competitive market remains to be seen.

Alder is also developing ALD1910, an antibody designed to inhibit pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) for migraine prevention.

The FDA is due to make a regulatory decision about eptinezumab by 21 February 2020, and a European filing is planned in the EU next year.

This will be followed by filings in other regions, including China and Japan.

While there is some cynicism about the potential of eptinezumab given the competition, Lundbeck said it expects the transaction to strengthen its business from next year – assuming the drug is given the green light by the FDA.

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