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Ipsen Acquires Epizyme, Expanding Portfolio in Rare Cancer Therapeutics

June 27, 2022

Ipsen and Epizyme signed a merger agreement approved by both companies in which the French biopharma will acquire Epizyme for $247 million in cash and contingent value rights tied to milestones.

Photo: Grant Bogle, president and CEO of Epizyme

The deal bolsters Ipsen’s oncology portfolio with Epizyme’s lead medicine, Tazverik (tazemetostat), a first-in-class, chemotherapy-free EZH21 inhibitor, which was granted Accelerated Approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration  in 2020 for adults with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma whose tumors are positive for an EZH2 mutation as detected by an FDA-approved test and who have received at least two prior systemic therapies, and for adult patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma who have no satisfactory alternative treatment options, as well as for adults and pediatric patients aged 16 years and older with metastatic or locally advanced epithelioid sarcoma not eligible for complete resection.

Tazverik is also currently in the phase 3 stage of a registrational confirmatory study (SYMPHONY-1) in combination with rituximab and lenalidomide in patients with relapsed/refractory follicular lymphoma who have received at least one prior therapy. Initial results from the phase 3 randomized portion of this study are planned to read out in 2026.

As part of the transaction, Ipsen will also acquire Epizyme’s first-in-class, oral SETD2 inhibitor development candidate, EZM0414, which was granted FDA Fast Track status and is currently under evaluation in a recently initiated phase 1/1b trial in adult patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, as well as a portfolio of preclinical programs focusing on epigenetic targets.

“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,” said David Loew, CEO of Ipsen. “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 preclinical compounds into our portfolio.”

The deal brings an end to Epizyme, founded in 2007 with a vision of developing novel epigenetic therapies. Epizyme’s pipeline includes several other rare cancer targeting candidates, including epithelioid sarcoma, diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. The company was beset with weak sales of Tazverik and has seen its shares ravaged over the past year.

“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,” said Grant Bogle, president and CEO of Epizyme.

Under the terms of the agreement and plan of merger, Ipsen, through a subsidiary, will initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Epizyme at a price of $1.45 per share in cash at the closing of the transaction, for an initial estimated aggregate consideration of $247 million plus one contingent value right (CVR) per share. Each CVR will entitle its holder to deferred cash payments of $0.30 per CVR payable upon the first achievement of $250 million in aggregate net sales of Tazverik (excluding sales in Japan and Greater China) in any period of four consecutive quarters, by the end of 2026 and $0.70 per CVR payable upon receipt of U.S. regulatory approval necessary for the commercial marketing and sale of the combination of Tazverik and rituximab and lenalidomide in second-line follicular lymphoma by  January 2028. The $1.45 per share cash consideration represents a premium of approximately 144 percent compared to Epizyme’s average closing price of $0.60 over the 30 trading days preceding announcement of the transaction. The transaction will be fully financed by Ipsen’s existing cash and lines of credit.

Author: Rare Daily Staff

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