- Eli Lilly will sell its emergency diabetes treatment Baqsimi to Amphastar Pharmaceuticals for $500 million upfront, the company said Monday, divesting a drug launched four years ago that had $139 million in sales last year.
- Baqsimi is an intranasal version of glucagon, a hormone that raises blood sugar levels, and is used to rescue people with diabetes who have a severe hypoglycemia episode after injecting insulin. Amphastar specializes in injectable, inhalable and intranasal drugs, and markets an injectable glucagon as a hypoglycemia rescue medicine.
- Per deal terms, Lilly is also due $125 million one year after closing and could earn up to $450 million in sales-based milestones. The companies expect the deal to close in the second or third quarter of the year.
While Lilly hasn’t engaged in as much so-called “externalization” activities as fellow drugmakers AstraZeneca or Pfizer, in recent years it has spun off its animal health division into the free-standing company Elanco and sold off the skin drug Qbrexza to Journey Medical.
Baqsimi fit into Lilly’s core diabetes business, but was overshadowed by the blockbuster drugs Trulicity, Jardiance and Humalog, a group that is likely to be joined soon by a new agent, Mounjaro.
Those blockbusters are aimed at helping people with diabetes keep their blood sugar stable. Baqsimi, on the other hand, is an emergency treatment for people having severe hypoglycemia, a side effect of glucose-lowering insulin therapy that can lead to hospitalization and death.
People with Type 1 diabetes may experience multiple symptomatic hypoglycemia episodes per week. When episodes are severe enough to require glucagon rescue medication, it must be administered by family or friends, much like EpiPens after severe allergic reactions.
In addition to its glucagon shot, Amphastar markets emergency medical injections like epinephrine for severe allergic reactions, enoxaparin for blood clots and vasopressin for septic shock and similar conditions. Baqsimi may therefore be more compatible with Amphastar’s product line than Lilly’s.
“We are optimistic about Baqsimi's growth potential as it is the first and only commercial intra-nasal glucagon demonstrated to treat low blood sugar emergencies,” said Amphastar CEO Jack Zhang in a statement.
In addition to the glucagon rescue products, Amphastar is developing interchangeable insulins to compete with Sanofi’s long-acting product Lantus, Novo Nordisk’s Novolog and engineered human insulins like Lilly’s Humulin.