Grünenthal Snaps up Averitas Pharma for Undisclosed Sum to Extend Presence in the U.S.
Two weeks after acquiring two drugs from AstraZeneca in a $700 million deal, Germany-based Grünenthal flexed its M&A muscle again to acquire Averitas Pharma to extend its commercial footprint in the United States.
Averitas will be in charge of commercializing the pain patch Qutenza (8 percent capsaicin). Grünenthal recently acquired the remaining global rights, including the U.S. rights, for the product from Acorda Therapeutics. Terms of the deal were not disclosed in the announcement.
Grünenthal Chief Executive Officer Gabriel Baertschi said he was proud that the company has established its own commercial presence in “the world's biggest pharma market” for the first time.
“This acquisition is another important milestone in executing our growth strategy and expanding our business across multiple pain-related therapeutic categories and geographies. Averitas Pharma is a perfect match due to its significant specialty pharma expertise in the US market and experience in different commercial models also beyond the typical 'reach and frequency' approach,” Baertschi said in a statement.
Qutenza is a local analgesic and is seen as an alternative to the current standard of care. Particularly in light of the opioid crisis in the United States, Grünenthal said there is still a high unmet medical need in pain management, particularly for non-opioid and non-systemic treatments. In the U.S., Qutenza is currently approved for the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia. Averitas Pharma will work towards a broader neuropathic pain label from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In Europe, Qutenza is approved for use in broad peripheral neuropathic pain indication in adults, post-surgical neuropathic pain, cancer-related neuropathic pain and painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
In its announcement this morning, Grünenthal said Averitas will “enhance the commercial distribution model for Qutenza” toward a specialty pharmacy and hub services model. That will make it easier for patients to acquire the medication, as well as provide a stronger support for healthcare professionals who will prescribe it. Baertschi said this plan will help the company transition and ramp up the Qutenza business in the United States and position it for a growth path in the market.
Grünenthal has been working on a slow and steady growth strategy over the past two years that includes deals valued at more than $1.3 billion. That includes the $700 million deal with AstraZeneca last month, the largest of all the deals the company has made since 2016. In that deal, Grünenthal acquired the prescription drug rights to the acid reflux medicine, Nexium, as well as some of the rights to Vimovo, a pain-relieving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. The company also acquired global rights to Zomig, a migraine treatment, excluding Japan.
Last year Grünenthal established an innovation hub in Boston in order to accelerate “easier access to and close collaboration with leading scientists and institutions.” The company said the innovation center will allow it to “identify promising projects in pain, inflammation, orphan diseases, and devices & technologies from the large number of projects in late discovery and early development in the region.”