MELBOURNE, Australia—Biopharmaceutical company Fibrotech has announced the establishment of an agreement with Shire plc under which the latter will acquire Fibrotech for an upfront payment of $75 million, as well as certain contingent payments based on the achievement of development and regulatory milestones. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, which includes the approval of Australia’s Foreign Investment Review Board.
“The team at Fibrotech are very excited about this acquisition, as Shire are strategically aligned with our commitment to renal and fibrotic conditions, including rare diseases – areas of high unmet medical need,” Prof. Darren Kelly, CEO of Fibrotech, said in a press release. “This acquisition will have significant benefit to the Australian biotechnology sector and highlights the importance of commercialization and collaboration between academia and industry.”
Along with this acquisition, Shire will be moving forward with the development of FT011, Fibrotech’s lead product. The compound entered the clinic in May of last year, and has completed a Phase 1A study in healthy volunteers, with a Phase 1B study now underway in patients with diabetic nephropathy. Diabetic nephropathy, as described on Fibrotech’s website, “is a chronic disease whose progression is characterized by a reduction in the ability of the kidney to filter waste from the blood, ultimately leading to kidney failure and death.” According to the International Diabetic Foundation, more than 194 million people worldwide are living with diabetes, 57 million of whom face diabetic nephropathy as well. Should the Phase 1B study be completed successfully, it is expected that the first Phase 2 study will begin to enroll patients with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a rare disease that affects the kidney’s filtering system leading to serious fibrosis, in 2015.
Shire will also gain Fibrotech’s novel molecule library, which includes FT061, a preclinical oral small molecule with a mode of action similar to that of FT011 that has the potential to address the inflammatory and pro-fibrotic facets of fibrosis.
“The acquisition of Fibrotech is a strategic step in expanding Shire’s pipeline with a novel, clinical-stage anti-fibrotic agent that strengthens our growing and innovative portfolio targeting renal and fibrotic diseases. There have been significant advances in the scientific understanding of fibrosis and the use of biomarkers to support clinical development – which makes now a good time to invest in these promising assets targeting a novel mechanism of action,” Phil Vickers, head of Research & Development at Shire, commented in a statement.
The acquisition is the second for Shire in recent months. In late January, the company announced that it had completed its tender offer for ViroPharma, a rare disease biopharmaceutical company. Shire announced the offer in November 2013, which featured a total consideration for ViroPharma of approximately $4.2 billion. The deal was another boost to Shire’s rare disease portfolio, as it gained the company Cinryze, a treatment for hereditary angioedema. Cinryze is the only treatment for the disease that can be taken as a preventative measure, and complements Shire’s own hereditary angioedema treatment, Firazyr.