Astellas Takes Out Belgium Biotech in Deal Worth $853 Million

Astellas Takes Out Belgium Biotech in Deal Worth $853 Million April 3, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

TOKYO – Astellas Pharma struck a deal valued at up to $853 million to acquire Belgium-based Ogeda SA, a privately-held clinical-stage drug discovery company and its lead drug candidate, fezolinetant, is a selective NK3 receptor targeting hot flashes and menopause-related vasomotor symptoms.

Yoshihiko Hatanaka, president and chief executive officer of Astellas, said the acquisition of Ogeda, formerly known as Euroscreen, fits the company’s strategy to deliver innovative drugs in therapeutic areas with high unmet medical needs. Ogeda’s focus is developing small molecule drugs that target G-protein coupled receptors.

Fezolinetant is an antagonist of the GPCR known as the tachykinin NK3 receptor and acts on specific neurons that control body temperature to directly and safely address the basis for hot flashes in menopausal women. Earlier this year, Ogeda announced Phase IIa data that showed the drug achieved its goals. Data showed fezolinetant reduced the frequency of moderate-to-severe hot flashes at the fourth week of treatment by 89 percent, compared to 38 percent for placebo. At week 12, the numbers increased to 92 percent, compared to 54 percent for placebo. Additionally, fezolinetant also reduced the severity of hot flashes at week four by 60 percent and 70 percent at week 12, well above the placebo data of 12 percent and 23 percent respectively. Data showed that mild-to-moderate adverse events (such as headache and nasopharyngitis) were reported in 67 percent of the fezolinetant group and 80 percent in the placebo group.

"We welcome the acquisition by Astellas and look forward to developing fezolinetant, first non-hormonal treatment of Hot Flashes (HF)/ MR-VMS, inside a leading global pharmaceutical company. With its strong development and commercialization capabilities, resources and vision, I am convinced that Astellas will be able to turn fezolinetant promising clinical results into near-term value for patients," Jean Combalbert, CEO of Ogeda said in a statement.

Under terms of the agreement, Astellas, the maker of cancer drug Xtandi, will pay about $535 million in upfront money. The remaining $320 million will be paid to Ogeda based on milestones.

This transaction expands Astellas' late stage pipeline and is expected to contribute to its mid-to-long term growth. The deal is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of this year. Astellas said it is still reviewing the impact of this transaction on its financial forecasts for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018.

This is the second big acquisition for Astellas in about six months. In October 2016, the company snapped up the small privately-held German company Ganymed Pharmaceuticals and its experimental Phase II drug IMAB362 as a first-line treatment in gastric cancer for $1.4 billion. Astellas said IMAB362 will expand the company’s oncological platform, which is a key economic driver for the company.

Additionally, Astellas has struck collaboration deals with other companies, such as Waltham, Mass.-based X-Chem and Cambridge, Mass.-based startup Affinivax, to develop a vaccine to prevent and reduce the spread of pneumococcal disease.

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