AzurRx BioPharma acquires US biotech company First Wave Bio for $229m

AzurRx BioPharma has signed a stock and cash deal worth $229 million to acquire Florida-based clinical-stage biotech company First Wave Bio.

The consideration includes payments for certain development, regulatory and sales milestones.

First Wave Bio specializes in developing gut-targeted, small molecule therapies for auto-immune inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and other serious disorders.

The buyer – AzurRx BioPharma, which is also based in Florida, is a publicly-listed clinical stage biopharma company engaged in developing targeted, non-systemic therapies for gastrointestinal (GI) diseases.

Post-acquisition, AzurRx BioPharma will rename the combined firm First Wave BioPharma, which will trade on NASDAQ under the ticker symbol of FWBI.

James Sapirstein, who is presently the Chairman, President, and CEO of AzurRx BioPharma will lead the renamed company.

Commenting on AzurRx BioPharma acquisition of First Wave Bio, James Sapirstein said: “The acquisition of First Wave Bio, and the creation of First Wave BioPharma, Inc. is a transformative event that significantly expands our GI development pipeline and positions our company for new growth opportunities in the inflammatory bowel disease therapeutic space.

“Our portfolio now includes new indications for several IBDs that represent multi-billion dollar commercial market opportunities.”

The acquisition will give AzurRx BioPharma all rights to First Wave Bio’s proprietary formulations of niclosamide. The small molecule drug is said to have anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties to help in addressing various GI conditions.

Furthermore, AzurRx BioPharma will have full ownership of First Wave Bio’s intellectual property (IP) portfolio, which covers method of use and delivery of the formulations as treatments for multiple auto-immune, inflammatory and viral conditions.

Earlier this year, AzurRx BioPharma had in-licensed the exclusive global rights from First Wave Bio to develop a couple of niclosamide therapeutic indications, which include Covid-19-related GI infections and immune checkpoint inhibitor-associated colitis and diarrhea (ICI-AC) in patients suffering from advanced stage cancer.

After the acquisition, the internal development pipeline of AzurRx BioPharma will include three new clinical IBD indications in ulcerative proctitis (UP) and ulcerative proctosigmoiditis (UPS), Crohn’s disease (CD), and ulcerative colitis (UC).

Gary D. Glick — CEO and Founder of First Wave Bio, commenting on AzurRx BioPharma acquisition of First Wave Bio, said: “We believe the acquisition of First Wave Bio by AzurRx will unlock the value of our proprietary niclosamide formulations targeting IBD. We are confident that the AzurRx team will successfully advance these programs along their respective clinical and regulatory pathways.”

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