Cinryze and synergy

ViroPharma acquires Lev Pharmaceuticals and inflammatory disease program

Amy Swinderman
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EXTON, Pa.—Focused on broadening its portfolio of therapies for life-threatening conditions in selected specialty markets, ViroPharma Inc., a developer of products for serious diseases treated by physicians and in hospital settings, has acquired Lev Pharmaceuticals Inc., a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing therapeutic products for inflammatory diseases. The transaction could be worth a potential net aggregate value of $617.5 million.

The transaction involves an upfront payment of $442.9 million, or $2.75 per Lev share, comprised of $2.25 per share in cash and 50 cents per share in ViroPharma common stock. Contingent consideration of up to $1 per share may be paid on achievement of certain regulatory and commercial milestones. In addition, ViroPharma purchased $20 million of Lev common stock. The transaction is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The acquisition is expected to boost ViroPharma's pipeline with the addition of Cinryze, Lev's lead product candidate for both the acute and prophylactic treatment of hereditary angioedema (HAE), also known as C1 inhibitor deficiency. Cinryze is currently under regulatory review for approval by the FDA.

ViroPharma President and CEO Vincent J. Milano says the Lev acquisition is a strategic fit for ViroPharma, which he characterizes as "truly entrepreneurial."

"If you compare and contrast us to some of the big specialty pharmaceutical companies, we like to be in places where there is a much smaller number of patients," Milano says. "At this stage of our company's growth, we are in the unique position of being a profitable biotech company, but we're driven not by earnings growth as much as we are by building sustainable growth. The founders of Lev are more entrepreneurial, too, so Lev brings to ViroPharma its expertise as well as operational synergies."

Cinryze targets a market that is addressable with modest additional infrastructure and further serves patients suffering from a disease with few treatment options, Milano adds.

"Lev has done a phenomenal job in advancing Cinryze to the stage of development it is currently in," Milano says. "Today, the only therapy available for HAE is anabolic steroids. We all know from the industry itself or reading the newspaper that steroids can cause tons of major side effects. Cinryze will be first and likely best treatment to help manage this disease. Lev is younger and less mature than the status of this drug. ViroPharma has the regulatory experience to increase the probability of getting regulatory approval as fast as possible, then taking advantage of that approval as soon as it arrives and commercializing it."

Lev, which was founded in 2003 and is located in New York, did not respond to a request for comment, but Judson Cooper, Lev's chairman of the board, said in a statement that the acquisition provides shareholders with attractive financial terms, through the upfront payment and the opportunity to continue to share in the success of Cinryze through the ownership of ViroPharma shares and the contingent value rights.

"Leveraging the combined resources of both companies not only strengthens our C1 inhibitor development platform, but also underscores our commitment to serving patients with critical unmet medical needs," Cooper said in the statement. DDN

Amy Swinderman

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