Shire to acquire rare disease firm Dyax for $5.9bn

Shire is to expand its presence in the rare disease field with the acquisition of Massachusetts-based biotech firm Dyax.

The hefty price tag for the firm reflects Dyax’s lead product DX-2930, a treatment for rare debilitating genetic inflammatory condition HAE.

The Dyax buy is just the latest in a string of acquisitions for Shire in the rare disease market, it having acquired Viropharma in 2013 for $4.2 billion and paid $5.2 billion for NPS earlier this year. Rare diseases is not the only space the firm is expanding in – in August it also bought ophthalmics specialists Foresight for $300 million.

Shire is also in the throes of trying to land an even bigger deal – a $30 billion unsolicited bid for Baxalta, but has yet to convince shareholders that the deal is worthwhile.

Meanwhile, Shire has pounced on Dyax, acquiring a promising drug which would otherwise have been a major competitor to its own portfolio. Shire says Dyax’s DX-2930 offers “potentially transformative prophylactic therapy” for HAE, and could earn annual sales of over $2 billion by 2030.

Shire already has a leading presence in the field of HAE, its top-selling drugs Firazyr and Cinryze already treating patients with the condition, but the new drug could advance treatment considerably.

Shire’s chief executive Flemming Ornskov said the “highly complementary transaction” would help it grow into a leading global biotech firm focused on rare diseases and speciality conditions.

He added: “We have closely followed DX-2930’s progress in the evolving HAE landscape for some time, and we admire the work of the Dyax team in moving this next-generation therapy forward.”

HAE is a rare, debilitating genetic inflammatory condition, which causes episodes of swelling in the face, extremities, and GI tract and can be life threatening. An estimated 30-40 per cent of patients afflicted by HAE in the US and EU remain undiagnosed, which means there should be significant growth in the therapy area.

In addition, prophylactic treatment is also thought to be currently under-utilised, with about 40 per cent of patients only treating their attacks acutely on an as-needed basis.

The drug has a novel mechanism of action, and could eventually be used with a weekly or monthly subcutaneous dose by injection.

DX-2930 has received Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, and Orphan Drug designations from the US FDA and received Orphan Drug status in the EU. It is expected to enter phase III clinical trials by the end of 2015.

Pipeline and phage display

In addition to DX-2930 in its first indication, Dyax has early-stage, pre-clinical, antibody pipeline programmes, including exploration of DX-2930 for diabetic macular oedema; DX-2507, an anti-FcRN for the treatment of antibody-mediated autoimmune diseases, and DX-4012, an anti-factor Xlla antibody for thrombosis.

Dyax also has a successful phage display discovery platform, which produced DX-2930. The patented antibody generation technology can improve the speed and cost-effectiveness of internal and partnered drug discovery.

The acquisition will also give Shire an extensive licensing and funded research programme (LFRP) which includes Lilly’s marketed product Cyramza (ramucirumab). The LFRP includes additional product candidates by licensees in various clinical development stages for which Shire would receive royalties or milestone payments post-approval.

Related article

Shire and Mylan both face obstacles on takeover plans 17 August 2015

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.