May 28, 2013 | By Márcio Barra
Astrazeneca announced today that it is to buy Omthera Pharmaceuticals, in an effort to strengthen its cardiovascular drug portfolio.
Following last month’s acquisition of AlphaCore Pharma, a small early-stage U.S. biotechnology company, the acquisition of Omthera Pharmaceuticals brings the drug Epanova to Astrazeneca’s surely needing portfolio. This drug is an ultra-pure mixture of the free fatty acid forms of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two Omega 3 fatty acids from fish oil. Epanova already concluded its final-stage Phase III clinical trials, where it showed its ability to lower non-HDL cholesterol from baseline after 6 months of treatment, and is set to be submitted for U.S. regulatory approval by the middle the year.
After losing the patent for their blockbuster antipsychotic drug Seroquel last year, Astrazeneca announced back in March a massive re-structuring plan for the company, with 5050 layoffs planned, more focus on the blood thinner Brilinta, and a $240 million bet on a novel but untested technology from a small biotechnology company, Moderna Therapeutics. Acquiring Omthera Pharmaceuticals provides Astrazeneca with a late-stage asset near regulatory submission, the first since CEO Pascal Soriot presented the re-structuring plan. If Epanova is approved, it will compete with GlaxoSmithKline’s drug Lovaza, and it even has the potential to be combined with AstraZeneca’s top selling, cholesterol drug Crestor.
AstraZeneca will buy Omthera for $12.70 per share, or approximately $323 million.