Allergan, the drugmaker behind Botox, is on a shopping spree.
The company on Monday said it’s acquiring the rights to a drug to treat Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis for as much as $1.27 billion. The drug is still in development, so Allergan is only paying $250 million now, but it will owe AstraZeneca more as it hits certain milestones.
With this deal, Allergan has committed $3.67 billion to acquisitions and investments in the last 30 days. That includes upfront costs and payments that will be made later if drugs are successful.
For Allergan, this is actually a drop in the bucket. The company just sold its generic drug business to Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical for $33.75 billion in cash (and even more in Teva stock).
Here are the others:
- RetroSense Therapeutics, a gene therapy company that’s working on a treatment for a cause of blindness. That, deal, worth $60 million up-front happened on September 6.
- On September 14, it acquired dermatology company Vitae Pharmaceuticals for $639 million.
- On September 20, it acquired Tobira Therapeutics, which is developing two treatments for a liver condition called NASH in a deal worth $1.65 billion.
- Later that afternoon, the company announced it had also acquired Akarna Therapeutics, a private company also working on drugs to treat NASH. That deal was worth $50 million up-front.
But using acquisitions of promising drugs as a means to fatten a company’s pipeline of products is a pretty classic part of any big drugmakers’ playbook. But the Tobira acquisition also gives us a clue about how aggressive Allergan will be. The deal was for six times the company’s closing price. Analysts say that’s a clue that Allergan had competition.
The disease Tobira is targeting, NASH or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, is a type of liver disease in which liver fat builds up in people. People with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance are all at an elevated risk of developing the disease, though much about its causes remains unknown. NASH has become more common in recent years, and is often called a “silent” disease since most people don’t know they have it until it leads to problems like cirrhosis and liver failure. It affects up to 100 million Americans. Allergan CEO Brent Saunders said it was set to “become one of the next epidemic-level chronic diseases we face as a society.”
There aren’t any approved treatments for NASH, but the NIH suggests avoiding alcohol, eating healthy, losing weight (if the person is overweight) and exercising more as ways that can cut down on liver fat and even, in some cases, reverse the course of the disease.