Amgen to Buy Horizon in Biotech’s Biggest Deal of 2022

Horizon_Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Amgen has emerged the winner in a three-way contest to buy rare disease giant Horizon Therapeutics, confirming Monday morning it will acquire the Irish company for $26.4 billion.

The California-based biotech leader will pay $116.50 for each share of Horizon, according to Reuters. Struck just three weeks before the close of 2022, it is biopharma’s largest deal of the year.

Rumors of a potential acquisition first started circulating last month, after WSJ broke the story. At the time, the company confirmed it was fielding offers from three industry giants - Amgen, Sanofi and Janssen - though discussions were still “highly preliminary.”

Shortly after, Janssen announced “it [did] not intend” to tender any acquisition offers for Horizon, though the company also reserved the right to change its mind within the next 6 months. 

Sanofi, which had initially said that any offers it would make Horizon would be in cash, dropped out of the race Sunday, pointing to “transaction price expectations” that “do not meet our value creation criteria.”

Establishing a Rare Immune Disease Presence

The deal brings Horizon’s top asset, Tepezza (teprotumumab-trbw), into the Amgen fold. Tepezza won FDA approval in January 2020 for the treatment of thyroid eye disease, making it the first drug to notch a regulatory nod in this indication in the U.S.

In its Q3 financial results, Horizon reported that Tepezza netted the Irish company $490.9 million in earnings. Driven by strong market growth, Horizon doubled its sales expectation for Tepezza outside the U.S. to $1 billion, up from $500 million. In the U.S., the company continues to project that Tepezza will reach net peak annual sales of over $3 billion.

Horizon also owns Uplizna (inebilizumab-cdon), which it gained with the 2021 acquisition of Viela Bio. Uplizna is an anti-AQP4 antibody approved for the treatment of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, a rare neuroinflammatory autoimmune disorder.

Alongside Uplizna and Tepezza, Horizon’s Orphan Segment, its key strategic growth segment, also has Krystexxa, Ravicti, Actimmune and Procysbi. In Q3, this segment posted net sales of $904.7 million.

For Amgen, the Horizon buyout will bolster its rare and immunological disease pipeline, helping the company carve out a more dominant presence in these therapeutic fields.

In August, Amgen purchased ChemoCentryx for $3.7 billion, gaining access to Tavneos (avacopan), a first-in-class medicine for serious and rare autoimmune diseases. The drug is approved as an adjunctive treatment for ANCA-associated vasculitis, particularly granulomatosis with polyangiitis and microscopic polyangiitis.

Amgen also owns the anti-inflammatory drugs Enbrel (etancercept) and Otezla (apremilast). In the third quarter, sales for Enbrel dipped 14% year-over-year and grew slightly by 3% for Otezla.

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