RARE Daily

Alexion Branches Out to Acquire Portola for $1.4 Billion

May 5, 2020

Marie Daghlian

Alexion Pharmaceuticals will acquire Portola Pharmaceuticals for $1.4 billion in a deal that will expand and diversify its hematology, neurology, and critical care commercial portfolio with the addition of Portola’s Factor Xa inhibitor reversal agent Andexxa.

Alexion markets the C5 compliment 5 inhibitors Soliris and Ultomiris, some of the most expensive drugs on the market, to treat rare disease.

“The acquisition of Portola represents an important next step in our strategy to diversify beyond C5,” said Ludwig Hantson, CEO of Alexion. “Andexxa is a strategic fit with our existing portfolio of transformative medicines and is well-aligned with our demonstrated expertise in hematology, neurology and critical care.”

Under the terms of the merger agreement, a subsidiary of Alexion will commence a tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Portola’s common stock at a price of $18 per share in cash, representing a premium of 234 percent on Portola’s closing share price of $7.74 just before the deal was announced.

Andexxa, which is approved in the United States and Europe, reverses the anticoagulant effects of the Factor Xa inhibitors rivaroxaban and apixaban in severe and uncontrolled bleeding. Although Portola’s hopes for Andexxa were high, sales have disappointed, and shares of the company’s stock had traded as high as $66 before the approval in May 2018.

Portola sees the deal with Alexion as a chance to expand Andexxa’s sales.

“Given their enhanced resources, global footprint and proven commercial expertise, we look forward to working with Alexion to maximize the value of Andexxa,” said Scott Garland, president and CEO of Portola.

Alexion’s Soliris was first approved by the FDA in 2007 to reduce destruction of red blood cells in adults, and eventually in children, with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PAH), a rare disease that causes abnormal blood clots to form in small blood vessels in the kidneys, and for the treatment of adults with myasthenia gravis who are anti-acetylcholine receptor antibody positive. In 2019, Soliris also gained expanded approval to include its use as a treatment for neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, a rare autoimmune disease of the central nervous system that mainly affects the optic nerves and spinal cord.

Alexion’s follow-on to Soliris, the long-acting C5 complement inhibitor Ultomiris, was approved by the FDA in December 2018 to treat PAH, and in 2019 was approved in both the U.S. and Europe for the treatment of atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS) in adult and pediatric (one month of age and older) patients. aHUS is a severe and chronic ultra-rare disease that can cause progressive damage to vital organs, predominantly the kidneys, leading to kidney failure and premature death.

Photo: Ludwig Hantson, CEO of Alexion

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