AbbVie Continues Buying Spree with $8.7B Cerevel Acquisition to Bolster Neuro

AbbVie Building

Pictured: AbbVie building in California/iStock, vzphotos

In its second multi-billion dollar deal in a week, AbbVie is dropping $8.7 billion to acquire Massachusetts-based Cerevel Therapeutics and its pipeline of potentially best-in-class assets targeting psychiatric and neurological conditions, the companies announced late Wednesday.

Under the agreement, AbbVie will acquire all of Cerevel’s outstanding shares for $45 a pop, which according to Seeking Alpha is a 22% premium over their closing price on Wednesday. The boards of directors of both companies have already approved the deal, which is expected to close in mid-2024, pending approval by Cerevel shareholders as well as customary regulatory and anti-trust clearances.

Cerevel’s stock jumped 14% higher in after-hours trading Wednesday in reaction to the news of the buyout.

The acquisition will bring together AbbVie’s existing neuroscience portfolio—which includes the migraine medicine Qulipta (atogepant)—with Cerevel’s assets, yielding a combined pipeline that “represents a significant growth opportunity well into the next decade,” AbbVie CEO Richard Gonzalez said in a statement.

“AbbVie will leverage its deep commercial capabilities, international infrastructure, and regulatory and clinical expertise to deliver substantial shareholder value with multibillion-dollar sales potential across Cerevel's portfolio of assets,” Gonzalez said.

Once the transaction is closed, AbbVie will gain ownership of Cerevel’s late-stage asset emraclidine, a next-generation antipsychotic that is currently completing two registration-enabling Phase II studies in schizophrenia. The candidate is a positive allosteric modulator of the muscarinic M4 receptor with best-in-class potential for the treatment of schizophrenia.

Emraclidine is also being assessed in a Phase I study of healthy elderly adults as part of its development as a treatment for dementia-related psychosis in Alzheimer’s disease.

Aside from emraclidine, AbbVie will also gain access to Cerevel’s Phase III first-in-class asset tavapadon, a selective partial agonist of the dopamine D1/D5 receptors. Tavapadon is being developed as a monotherapy and adjunctive treatment for Parkinson’s disease (PD) and could be a “near-term complementary asset to AbbVie's existing symptomatic therapies for advanced PD,” according to Wednesday’s announcement.

The deal will also give AbbVie darigabat, a Phase II selective positive allosteric modulator of the alpha 2/3/5 subunits of the GABAA receptor being developed for panic disorder and treatment-resistant epilepsy, as well as CVL-354, a Phase I kappa opioid receptor antagonist with best-in-class potential for major depressive disorder.

The Cerevel acquisition comes one week after AbbVie bought ImmunoGen for $10.1 billion, gaining rights to the antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) Elahere (mirvetuximab soravtansine-gynx), which won the FDA’s accelerated approval in November 2022 for the treatment of platinum-resistant ovarian cancer.

AbbVie will also obtain ImmunoGen’s pipeline of investigational ADCs for acute myeloid leukemia and blastic plasmacytoid dendritic cell neoplasm.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. He can be reached at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

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