Horizon Therapeutics in takeover talks with 3 pharma giants as potential buyers

IRELAND — Amgen, J&J’s Janssen, and Sanofi are all in talks to acquire Horizon Therapeutics, the rare disease biotech has disclosed.

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines a condition as a rare disease if it affects approximately one person in 1,500 people or fewer, while in Europe a rare disorder is classified as such when it affects no more than one person in 2,000 individuals.

Horizon confirmed “highly preliminary discussions” with those companies regarding a potential buyout offer after the Wall Street Journal reported takeover interest.

The biotech company, which has a market capitalization of US$17.7 billion, added there can be no certainty that any offer will be made.

Horizon, which makes drugs for rare, autoimmune and severe inflammatory diseases, however, added there can be no certainty that any offer will be made.

The three firms have been active in deal-making this year.

Amgen acquired ChemoCentryx in a US$4 billion deal in October, while J&J earlier this month announced a US$16.6 billion bid for Abiomed.

Sanofi earlier this year completed the buyout of immuno-oncology company Amunix Pharmaceuticals for around US$1 billion.

Amgen declined to comment on the talks, while Sanofi and Janssen Global were not immediately available.

Horizon expects over US$4 billion in global annual peak sales for its biggest drug Tepezza, which is used to treat thyroid eye disease.

It has also estimated more than US$1.5 billion in peak U.S. annual sales of its second largest drug Krystexxa, used for the treatment of gout that is not controlled by other medicines.

Tepezza had generated nearly US$1.5 billion in the nine months ended Sept. 30, a growth of 37% from last year, while Krystexxa garnered US$500 million, up 27% from the prior year.

For context, Pfizer’s US$11.6 billion acquisition of migraine drug developer Biohaven Pharmaceutical earlier this year was the biopharma industry’s largest acquisition involving a drugmaker.

Last year’s two largest biopharma mergers and acquisition (M&A) deals, CSL’s acquisition of Vifor Pharma and Merck & Co.’s acquisition of Acceleron, were both worth slightly less than US$12 billion.

Merck was reportedly eyeing a US$40 billion takeover of Seattle cancer specialist Seagen earlier this year, but those talks appear to have cooled.

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