Blackstone Invests $ 2 Billion in Biotech Alnylam
Through a combination of equity and debt, private equity giant Blackstone will invest up to $2 billion in Cambridge, Massachusetts-based US biotech Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. The company founded in 2002 specializes in RNA interference, which intercepts disease-causing proteins.
The multi-component deal gives the publicly traded biotech needed resources to move through the costly phase of bringing late-stage drugs to market, analysts commented.
With a cash injection of $1 billion, Blackstone is secuing rights to 50% of the royalties and commercial milestones for inclisiran, an investigational RNAi therapeutic currently under review by both the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
Inclisiran is being recommended for treatment of atherosclerotic heart disease and hypercholesterolemia, a genetic disorder that causes very high cholesterol. Phase 3 clinical trials are said to have shown it can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol with an acceptable safety profile
The drug is being developed in partnership with Switzerland’s Novartis, which picked it up in its $9.7 billion takeover of The Medicines Company, where it was under license.
As part of the deal, Blackstone is also buying $100 million in Alnylam shares, and the investor’s Life Sciences unit has agreed to invest up to $150 million in the development of two other Alnylam drugs. Cardiometabolic vutrisiran is being investigated for ATTR amyloidosis and ALN-AGT is aimed at treating hypertension.
The private equity group headed by Steven Schwarzman is also providing Alnylam with a loan worth up to $750 million, which US business newspaper Wall Street Journal called “noteworthy both for its size and because biotech companies with unproven drugs and uncertain cash flow are often considered too risky for many lenders.”
Senior managing director at GSO, Brad Marshall, noted, however, that Alnylam is unique because it has two drugs already on the market and a manufacturing facility, in addition to the new cholesterol drug.
In February 2019, Blackstone Life Sciences invested $250 million in a joint venture with Novartis to develop drugs to treat blood clots. In November 2019, it contributed $400 million to a joint venture with Ferring Pharmaceuticals to develop and market a gene therapy to treat bladder cancer.