AstraZeneca Buys Omthera for $323M, Expands Fleet of Cholesterol Fighters

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Published May 28, 2013

| FOXBusiness

AstraZeneca (AZN) inked a deal on Tuesday to buy Omthera Pharmaceuticals (OMTH) for $323 million, acquiring an assortment of new therapies aimed at tackling cholesterol.

The deal, valued at $12.70 a share, represents a premium of 88% to Princeton, N.J.-based Omthera’s closing price on Friday.

Each shareholder will also receive rights to an additional $4.70 a share if certain milestones related to Omthera's investigational drug Epanova are achieved.

Omthera has completed late-stage clinical trials for Epanova, a coated soft gelatin capsule with polyunsaturated free fatty acids derived from fish oils. The therapy is designed to reduce abnormal levels of lipids in the blood, a condition known as dyslipidemia.

Last year, the drug company posted positive results from two Phase III trials examining the effectiveness of Epanova in lowering very high triglycerides. It was also shown to reduce non-HDL cholesterol in combination with a statin for patients with high triglycerides.

Both trials were done under a special protocol assessment with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and Omthera is expected to file a new drug application in the U.S. later this year for patients with severe hypertriglyceridemia. It will look to seek regulatory approval in other markets down the road.  

U.K.-based AstraZeneca said it intends to pursue a "large-scale cardiovascular outcomes trial" for Epanova in combination with statins and is looking to file a new drug application “as soon as possible” for Epanova as a treatment for patients with mixed dyslipidemia and another one in combination with its blood drug Crestor for patients at high risk of a cardiovascular event.  

“The number of people with elevated triglyceride levels is rising rapidly across the world, due in part to the increasing prevalence of obesity and diabetes,” AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said in a statement. “There is a clear need for effective and convenient alternatives to some of the existing treatments.”

Omthera’s board of directors unanimously approved of the terms of the agreement and has recommended shareholders approve of the deal. The transaction’s close, slated for the third quarter of this year, remains subject to shareholder and regulatory approval as well as customary closing conditions. Shareholders representing 60% of its outstanding shares have agreed to vote in favor.

Shares of AstraZeneca traded up about 2.3% $53 in recent trade, while those of Omthera shot up close to 96% to $13.25.

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