UCB Doubles Down on Rare Diseases with $1.9B Zogenix Deal

Mergers and Acquisitions

Belgian pharmaceutical company UCB has announced that it is acquiring U.S. biopharma Zogenix as part of plans to expand its reach into commercializing and developing treatments for rare diseases. 

Central to the agreement is access to Zogenix's FINTEPLA, an orphan medicine designed to treat Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. LGS is a rare and devastating type of childhood-onset epilepsy that has lifelong effects. It is characterized by multiple types of seizures, including those that lead to frequent falls and injuries, eventually leading to round-the-clock care and other self-care problems. FINTEPLA will be added to UCB's current product lineup.

"We are excited for the potential opportunities ahead of us, working together to accelerate our mission and progress to improve the care of patients in need of new therapies. We believe this transaction is in the best interests of both patients and our shareholders," said Dr. Stephen J. Farr, the president and chief executive officer of Zogenix, in a press release. 

FINTEPLA (fenfluramine) is an oral prescription medication that is being used to treat seizures linked with Dravet syndrome in patients aged two years and up. Dravet syndrome is a type of epilepsy that starts in infancy and severely affects the quality of life not just for the patients but also their families and caregivers. FINTEPLA works to inhibit seizures.

Under the terms of the deal, which was unanimously agreed on by both companies' boards of directors, UCB will purchase all outstanding shares in Zogenix for $26 per share in cash, plus a contingent value right for a possible cash payment of $2 per share when the European Union approves FINTEPLA by December 31, 2023. The total transaction has an estimated value of $1.9 billion. The acquisition by UCB effectively widens FINTEPLA's reach globally. 

"The proposed acquisition of Zogenix reinforces UCB's sustainable patient value strategy and continued commitment to addressing unmet needs of people living with epilepsy with an increasing focus on those living with specific or rare forms of epilepsy, where few options exist," commented Charl van Zyl, the executive vice president for neurology and the head of the Europe/International Markets division at UCB.

FINTEPLA is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency for the said indication. It is also currently being reviewed by regulatory authorities in Japan for Dravet syndrome. In addition, Zogenix is considering using the drug to address other rare epilepsies, including CDKL5 Deficiency Disorder. 

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