Amgen Makes $13 billion Grab for Otezla
Contrary to recent speculation that Amgen was preparing to buy Alexion, the California-based US biotech has announced that it instead will acquire Celgene’s Otezla, the only oral, non-biologic treatment for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, along with certain related assets and liabilities.
The deal is worth $13.4 billion in cash or around $11.2 billion net of the present value of $2.2 billion in anticipated future cash tax benefits, Amgen said. The transaction’s going ahead is crucial for the acquisition of Celgene by BristolMyers Squibb. Sales of Otezla, driven by strong volume growth, totaled $1.6 billion in in 2018.
Commenting on the purchase, US pharma journal Fierce Pharma said the price “easily dwarfs some recent biopharma deals for entire companies and is significantly above the price tag analysts have previously estimated for Otezla, which suggests an intense bidding process.”
Robert A. Bradway, chairman and CEO of Amgen, said Otezla “fits squarely” with Amgen’s portfolio and is complementary to its existing inflammation franchise of innovative biologics and biosimilar products. He said the company will take advantage of its 20 years of experience in inflammatory disease to realize the franchise’s full global potential as an affordable option for patients with these serious, chronic inflammatory conditions.
The drug already approved in 54 markets outside the US, including the EU and Japan, is claimed to be the leading treatment in the post-topical, pre-biologic segment in its three US indications. It is recommended for patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis who are candidates for phototherapy or systemic therapy, as well as in adult patients with active psoriatic arthritis and adult patients with oral ulcers associated with Behçet's Disease. Otezla has patent exclusivity through at least 2028.
Amgen said the transaction should contribute to its near- and long-term revenue growth rate and will be immediately accretive from close to non-GAAP earnings per share growth, with acceleration thereafter. The company intends to finance the transaction with current balance sheet cash and expects “at least low double-digit sales growth” for Otezla over the next five years.
The number of patients suffering from chronic inflammatory diseases is said to be growing worldwide. Amgen is already a major player in this wide therapeutic category with Enbrel, a blockbuster TNF inhibitor that it markets in the US and Canada. That drug is seen as leading in moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis, moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, and psoriatic arthritis (PsA).