Galenica to Acquire Bay Area's Relypsa for $1.53 Billion

Published: Jul 22, 2016

Galenica to Acquire Bay Area's Relypsa for $1.53 Billion July 21, 2016
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

BERNE, Switzerland – Swiss healthcare giant Galenica struck a $1.53 billion deal to acquire California-based Relypsa in order to strengthen its toehold in the United States as well as the potassium binder Veltassa.

Galenica, which owns one of the largest pharmacy networks in Switzerland, said the deal will strengthen its Vifor Pharma unit, which will soon be splitting off into its own entity, the company said in the announcement. Through this acquisition, Vifor Pharma will gain a fully-integrated commercial organization in the U.S. and significantly strengthen its presence in the U.S. cardio-renal market, a key area of focus, the company said in a statement. The deal builds on the company’s efforts to strengthen Vifor Pharma’s international power in the cardio-renal arena.

Shares of Relypsa are soaring this morning, climbing to $31.88 per share, up dramatically from Wednesday’s closing price of $20.01 per share. Under terms of the deal Galenica will pay $32 per share for Relypsa.

Relypsa’s Veltassa, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2015, is the first medicine for treatment of people with elevated blood potassium levels to be approved in the United States in more than 50 years and the only hyperkalemia medicine with long-term data in its label supporting chronic use.

In August 2015, Vifor Fresenius Medical Care Renal Pharma (VFMCRP) acquired the commercial rights to Veltassa outside the United States and Japan. Through the acquisition, Vifor Pharma will acquire the global rights to Veltassa. The medicine is currently under regulatory review in Europe.

John Orwin, president and chief executive officer of Relypsa, said in a statement that the deal with Galenica “offers significant and immediate value to our shareholders.” He said he was proud of the team that helped build Relypsa, which launched in 2007.

“Vifor Pharma is a recognized international leader in the cardio-renal space that shares a strong commitment to patients and closely aligned values with Relypsa,” Orwin said.

Hyperkalemia impacts about three million people in the United States with stage 3 or 4 chronic kidney disease and/or heart failure, Galenica said in a statement. Vifor Pharma maintains Veltassa has the potential to be a blockbuster drug, achieving more than $1 billion in annual sales. However, the drug could face competition from AstraZeneca ’s ZS-9, which Bloomberg said is awaiting approval from the FDA.

Vifor Pharma already markets a drug in the United States, Roche ’s iron-deficiency drug Mircera. Additionally, Vifor Pharma has a deal in place with Pfizer to market the renal drug Retacrit, Bloomberg reported.

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