- Allergan announced it is acquiring privately held Akarna Therapeutics for $50 million upfront plus clinical, regulatory and commercial milestone payments related to its lead development compound, AKN-083.
- AKN-083 is a farnesoid X receptor (FXR) agonist meant for the treatment of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), a fatty liver disease that often leads to liver transplant if left untreated.
- The announcement came several hours after Allergan revealed plans to acquire Tobira Therapeutics for $1.7 billion – another company with a lead compounds in NASH, including cenicriviroc (CVC), an oral immunomodulator aimed at inhibiting two chemokine receptors, and evogliptin, a DPP-4 inhibitor.
The company called the two acquisitions "stepping stones" that will "allow it to springboard" into a leadership role in the space during a conference call Wednesday with analysts.
Since failing to complete its megamerger with Pfizer, Allergan has been pursuing a variety of bolt-on deals. CEO Brent Saunders insisted during the conference call that Allergan is not changing its approach to business and R&D – the company is known in the industry for only devoting a small percentage of sales to R&D, while many big pharma brethren commit 17% to 21% on average.
The two deals round out three that the company has made so far in the NASH space and give it three drugs with different mechanisms of action.
Allergan estimates the market will grow to $5 billion to $8 billion annually with more than 5 million patients. NASH is currently a space with virtually no treatment options, but many big name companies have shown an interest, including Gilead.