DUBLIN—Rapidly expanding its orphan-drug portfolio and planning for $1 billion in revenue in 2014, Irish company Jazz Pharmaceuticals is in the process of acquiring Italian drug firmGentium, and has acquired anti-narcolepsy drug ADX-N05 from Aerial BioPharma, based in North Carolina.
The Gentium acquisition, announced in mid-December, is worth roughly $1 billion, with Jazz making a tender offer of $57 per share to Gentium holders (a 26-percent premium on the volume-weighted average share price over the previous 60 days). Jazz will pay for the deal with a combination of cash on hand, a $500 million incremental term loan from Barclays and the remainder under its existing senior secured credit agreement with Barclays. The company estimates its borrowing costs at 3 to 3.5 percent interest.
The deal will bring into Jazz’s stable a promising drug, Defitelio (defibrotide), which treats severe hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD) in children and adults receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplants. In October, Defitelio was approved by European regulators for sale in the European Union, and is protected under orphan-drug exclusivity laws there through 2023.
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) is more common in Europe than the United States, with 35,200 EU patients in 2013, compared with 19,500 U.S. patients, and 7,600 in the rest of the world. About 10 percent of HSCT patients develop severe VOD, which can involve multiple organ failure; untreated, it has an 80-percent mortality rate within 100 days.
Defitelio is also designated as an orphan drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); it is not approved yet, but is in Phase 3 clinical trials and has fast-track status for FDA approval pending the results of those trials. There are no other drugs approved in the United States for VOD, according to Jazz disclosure materials.
In addition, Defitelio is being studied to treat graft vs. host disease, which could boost its sales potential significantly, the company anticipates.
Defitelio joins a handful of other orphan drugs in Jazz’s portfolio, addressing hematology and oncology, pain, psychiatric needs and sleep disorders. The company’s major earner in that last category was Xyrem (sodium oxybate), which brought in $154 million of the $230 million the company grossed in the third quarter of 2013. While the results of previous acquisitions and expansions mean Xyrem’s share of overall company revenue is dropping, the drug’s earning power remains on the rise. The Q3 total was 15 percent higher than the previous quarter, and 150 percent higher than the same quarter a year earlier.
In the wake of the deal, Bloomberg News reported that Jazz could be a very attractive acquisition target, with high growth and expanding potential. An advisory from Leerink Swann Research analyst Jason Gerberry said the opportunity “appears reasonably attractive, and potentially durable,” with an initial market size of up to $100 million.
A mid-January acquisition, ADX-N05, will expand Jazz’s presence in the sleep sector. Carrying worldwide development rights (except certain parts of Asia) and patent protection through 2027, the deal cost $125 million in cash, plus up to $272 million in future milestone payments, as well as ongoing royalties to both drug creator Aerial BioPharma and New Jersey-based SK Biopharmaceuticals, which holds the remaining Asian development rights.
The drug treats narcolepsy, which has in the United States about 25,000 patients with inadequate control of their condition; a major growth opportunity will come if ADX-N05 is also approved to treat obstructive sleep apnea, which offers a potential U.S. market of between 150,000 and 275,000.
At a Jan. 13 presentation at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco, Jazz chairman and CEO Bruce Cozadd presented slides saying the company expects between $867 million and $877 million in total revenue for 2013, but projects surpassing $1 billion in 2014.