Horizon Therapeutics to acquire Viela Bio for $3bn to grow rare disease portfolio

Horizon Therapeutics, an Irish biopharma company, has agreed to acquire Viela Bio, a US-based biotech company, for $53 per share in cash or about $3.05 billion in a move to significantly expand its development pipeline and grow its rare disease medicine portfolio.

Viela Bio is focused on developing and commercializing therapies for a wide variety of autoimmune and severe inflammatory diseases. The current pipeline of the US biotech company includes four therapeutic candidates that are presently in nine development programs.

Horizon Therapeutics, on the other hand, is engaged in researching, developing, and commercializing medicines that address critical requirements of people suffering from rare and rheumatic diseases.

Tim Walbert – chairman, president, and CEO of Horizon Therapeutics said: “This acquisition represents a significant step forward in advancing our strategy – to expand our pipeline in order to accelerate our growth over the long term.

“Adding Viela’s research and clinical development capabilities along with its deep, mid-stage biologics pipeline to our seasoned R&D and commercial teams, advances our transformation to an innovation-driven biotech company where we will build on the success of TEPEZZA and KRYSTEXXA to bolster our long-term growth trajectory.

“We intend to maximize the full potential of Viela’s pipeline, including the pursuit of additional future indications.”

In June 2020, Viela Bio bagged approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Uplizna (inebilizumab-cdon) injection for intravenous use for the treatment of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD). The approval of Uplizna is for the rare autoimmune disease of the central nervous system (CNS) in adults who have a specific antibody called anti-aquaporin-4 (AQP4). Read about Uplizna FDA approval here.

Uplizna is a B-cell-depleting humanized monoclonal antibody. It is also in phase 3 trials for the treatment of myasthenia gravis and in phase 2 development for kidney transplant desensitization.

The other therapeutic candidates of Viela Bio are VIB4920, VIB7734, and VIB1116.

VIB4920 is an investigational fusion protein, which is in phase 2b trial in Sjögren’s syndrome and phase 2 trials for kidney transplant rejection and rheumatoid arthritis.

VIB7734 is an investigational human monoclonal antibody in phase 2 development for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and in phase 1 study for the treatment of acute lung injury caused by Covid-19.

VIB1116 is a monoclonal antibody designed for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. It is anticipated to begin phase 1 first-in-human trial in mid-2021.

Bing Yao – chairman and CEO of Viela Bio said: “We are pleased that Horizon recognizes the value of our robust R&D pipeline, our commercial medicine UPLIZNA, which is an important treatment option for patients with NMOSD, and our talented team.

“We believe that the combined pipeline, including the pursuit of additional potential indications, has the potential to yield innovative new medicines to treat autoimmune and severe inflammatory diseases. Our collective R&D expertise coupled with Horizon’s commercial capabilities, has the potential to provide benefit to more patients with high unmet treatment needs.”

The deal is expected to be wrapped up by the end of Q1 2021.

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