Janssen Bows Out as Contender for Horizon Therapeutics Buyout

Horizon_Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty

Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

And then there were two. Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) is no longer in the running to acquire rare disease player Horizon Therapeutics, the company announced Saturday. 

Last week, Horizon confirmed it was engaged in “highly preliminary discussions” with three separate pharma giants – Amgen, Sanofi and Janssen – regarding a potential acquisition. The Wall Street Journal first reported the news.

This weekend, Janssen stated it does not intend to make an offer for the Irish biotech. In its statement, Janssen did reserve the right to set aside this decision.  

With a market value of more than $18 billion, any acquisition of Horizon would be among the largest of 2022. The company’s stock jumped more than 33% in premarket trading Wednesday to $103.90 per share following the rumors.

Horizon focuses its efforts on rare, autoimmune and severe inflammatory diseases such as myasthenia gravis, lupus nephritis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

The winning bidder would secure access to Tepezza, which was approved in January 2020 for the treatment of thyroid eye diseases and Uplizna, approved last year for adults with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder who are anti-AQP4 antibody positive.

For its part, Sanofi revealed Friday that if it were to bid for Horizon, it would do so in cash. The French pharma has a significant presence in immunology and inflammation, with 26 ongoing projects in various stages of clinical development. Late-stage programs include Phase III trials of Dupixent and itepekimab in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a Phase III trial of Dupixent in chronic inducible cold urticaria.

Amgen is also an active player in inflammation. Amjevita, a biosimilar to AbbVie's blockbuster Humira, is currently in Phase III trials. Otezla, a small molecule that inhibits phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), is being studied in Phase III for pediatric plaque psoriasis, juvenile psoriatic arthritis and pediatric behcet’s disease. 

In August, Amgen doubled down on its commitment to the autoimmune and inflammatory space with the acquisition of ChemoCentryx. The deal brought Tavneos, an FDA-approved adjunctive treatment for adults with severe active antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis, into the fold. 

As Horizon is headquartered in Ireland, all potential offers for the company are governed by Irish corporate law. As per Rule 2.6 of the Irish Takeover Rules, offers for Horizon are required to be publicly announced no later than 5 p.m. EDT on Jan. 10, 2023, the company disclosed last week. This deadline can be extended by consent of the Irish Takeover Panel at Horizon’s request.

Horizon declined BioSpace's request for comment beyond its previously disclosed statement.

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