Ipsen to acquire American biopharma company Epizyme for $247m

French pharma company Ipsen has agreed to acquire Epizyme, a Massachusetts-based commercial-stage biopharma company for an initial consideration of $247 million.

Epizyme, which is listed on Nasdaq, is focused on developing and delivering therapies against novel epigenetic targets for patients with different types of cancer.

Through the deal, Ipsen gets access to Tazverik (tazemetostat), the lead drug of the American biopharma company.

Tazverik, which is a chemotherapy-free EZH2a inhibitor, has an accelerated approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which was granted in 2020.

Presently, Tazverik is indicated for the treatment of relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma (FL) in adults whose tumors are positive for an EZH2 mutation as detected by an FDA-approved test. The drug has to be used in such patients who were subjected to at least a couple of prior systemic therapies.

Tazverik is also approved in the US for adults having relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma who do not have any satisfactory alternative treatment options.

Additionally, the Epizyme EZH2a inhibitor is used for the treatment of both adults and pediatric patients aged 16 years and older who have metastatic or locally advanced epithelioid sarcoma which is not eligible for full resection.

Tazverik is presently in the phase 3 stage of confirmatory study called SYMPHONY-1 in combination with rituximab and lenalidomide (R2) in patients having relapsed/refractory follicular lymphoma who were given at least one prior therapy.

Initial findings from the randomized portion of the phase 3 study are intended to be released in 2026.

As part of the deal, Ipsen will also acquire EZM0414, the oral SETD2 inhibitor development candidate of Epizyme.

EZM0414 was given fast track status from the FDA and is presently being evaluated in a recently launched phase I/Ib trial in adults having relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma along with a portfolio of preclinical programs focused on epigenetic targets.

Commenting on Ipsen acquisition of Epizyme, David Loew — CEO of Ipsen, said: “Through this agreement, we will expand our assets in oncology. Ipsen’s capabilities and resources in oncology combined with Epizyme’s will accelerate the growth of Tazverik to achieve its full potential in follicular lymphoma patients. The strength of data support Tazverik’s positioning in patients with both EZH2 mutation positive and wild-type follicular lymphoma.

“We are compelled by the potential of its efficacy and tolerability profile, especially for elderly and/or frail patients who are treated in the community-based setting. Furthermore, we are excited to bring on board epigenetic expertise and the SETD2 inhibitor, as well as several pre-clinical compounds into our portfolio.”

Ipsen acquisition of Epizyme

Ipsen to acquire American biopharma company Epizyme for $247m. Photo courtesy of Gerd Altmann from Pixabay .

Ipsen will launch a tender offer to buy all the shares of Epizyme at $1.45 per share in cash plus one contingent value right (CVR) per share, which translates to cash payments of $0.3 per CVR.

The holders will get payment for their CVRs after the first achievement of $250 million in total net sales of Tazverik after excluding Japan and Greater China in any period of four consecutive quarters by 31 December 2026. They will also be entitled to $0.7 per CVR payment after obtaining an FDA approval required for the commercial marketing and sale of the combination of Tazverik and R² (rituximab and lenalidomide) in second-line follicular lymphoma by the start of 2028.

The deal is backed by Epizyme’s largest stockholder — Royalty Pharma, which holds a stake of around 20.5%.

Grant Bogle — Epizyme president and CEO, commenting on Ipsen acquisition of Epizyme, said: “I am incredibly proud of what our team has accomplished over the past 15 years, from the approval of Tazverik to advancing our next novel investigational agent, EZM0414, to the clinic, as well as the progress made on our preclinical compounds focused on both hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.

“We expect that this acquisition and Ipsen’s commitment to invest in the oncology space will ensure our epigenetic pipeline continues to advance in a way we could not have done on our own to bring transformative cancer therapies to patients in need.”

The deal, which was unanimously approved by boards of both Ipsen and Epizyme, is subject to the meeting of all closing conditions, and is expected to be wrapped up by the end of Q3 2022.

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