Amgen to acquire privately-held Dezima Pharma

AmgenAmgen (NASDAQ:AMGN) and Dezima Pharma B.V. (Dezima) today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive acquisition agreement under which Amgen will acquire Dezima, a privately-held, Netherlands-based biotechnology company focused on developing innovative treatments for dyslipidemia. Dezima shareholders have approved the agreement.

"With the recent launches of RepathaTM (evolocumab) and Corlanor® (ivabradine), and today's acquisition of Dezima, Amgen is proud to be on the leading edge of an exciting new wave of treatments for cardiovascular disease, an illness impacting millions of people worldwide," said Robert A. Bradway, chairman and chief executive officer at Amgen.

Dezima's lead molecule is TA-8995, an oral, once-daily cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) inhibitor. In a Phase 2b clinical trial for dyslipidemia, TA-8995 reduced low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) by 45 to 48 percent compared to baseline. LDL-C reduction was consistent when TA-8995 was administered as monotherapy or in combination with statins. The most common adverse events were nasopharyngitis and headache.

"TA-8995 has demonstrated dramatic LDL-C lowering," said Sean E. Harper, M.D., executive vice president of Research and Development at Amgen. "With a portfolio of TA-8995 and Repatha, our recently launched LDL-C lowering PCSK9 inhibitor, we will be able to offer more treatment options with different mechanisms of action and modes of administration across varying LDL-C levels and risk profiles."

Under the terms of the agreement, Amgen will pay $300 million in cash at closing and up to $1.25 billion in additional payments if certain development and sales milestones are achieved. Low single-digit royalties will be paid on net product sales above a certain threshold. The agreement is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. Following the completion of the transaction, Dezima Pharma, which originally licensed rights to TA-8995 from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC), will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Amgen. MTPC will receive from Dezima a portion of the upfront payment, future development and sales milestone payments, and royalties on net product sales if a certain threshold is reached. MTPC will also retain development and commercialization rights to TA-8995 in certain territories in Asia, including Japan.

"We are delighted to join Amgen as the company has shown impressive leadership in the cardiovascular space by their rapid and state-of-the-art development program for Repatha, their injectable PCSK9 inhibitor," said Rob de Ree, chief executive officer of Dezima. "Owning both Repatha and TA-8995, each innovative and complementary therapies with the potential to serve a broad range of patients with high cholesterol, will further solidify Amgen's position in the future treatment of dyslipidemia."

Covington & Burling and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek served as legal counsel to Amgen. NautaDutilh served as legal counsel and Moelis & Company served as a financial advisor to Dezima.

Amgen's cardiovascular portfolio includes Repatha, Corlanor and omecamtiv mecarbil.

Repatha was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in August. In the U.S. it is indicated as an adjunct to diet and maximally tolerated statin therapy for the treatment of adults with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH) or clinical atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), who require additional lowering of LDL-C; and as an adjunct to diet and other LDL-lowering therapies for the treatment of patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH), who require additional lowering of LDL-C.

In July, the European Commission (EC) granted marketing authorization for Repatha for the treatment of adults with primary hypercholesterolemia or mixed dyslipidemia, as an adjunct to diet in combination with a statin or statin with other lipid-lowering therapies in patients unable to reach LDL-C goals with the maximum tolerated dose of a statin, or alone or in combination with other lipid-lowering therapies in patients who are statin-intolerant, or from whom a statin is contraindicated; and as a treatment of adults and adolescents aged 12 years and over with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia in combination with other lipid-lowering therapies.

The effect of Repatha on cardiovascular morbidity and mortality has not been determined.

Corlanor was approved by the FDA in April to reduce the risk of hospitalization for worsening heart failure in patients with stable, symptomatic chronic heart failure with left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) < 35 percent, who are in sinus rhythm with resting heart rate > 70 beats per minute (bpm) and either are on maximally tolerated doses of beta blockers or have a contraindication to beta blocker use.

Omecamtiv mecarbil is a small molecule activator of cardiac myosin in Phase 2, which is being investigated for the treatment of heart failure in collaboration with Cytokinetics.

About Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein (CETP)
The Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein (CETP) facilitates the transfer of cholesterol from HDL to other lipoproteins including LDL, in exchange for triglycerides. The CETP mediated transfer of cholesterol into LDL particles results into maturation of those LDL particles to more atherogenic LDL particles, which contribute to macrophage foam cell, and eventually plaque formation. Large Mendelian randomization, epidemiological, and preclinical studies have provided evidence for the notion that CETP activity is inversely related to cardiovascular mortality and reduced activity of CETP by pharmaceutical means or by naturally occurring mutations in the CETP gene results in increased HDL and decreased LDL levels. This provides a rationale for inhibition of CETP activity as a therapeutic intervention in dyslipidemic conditions characterized by either low HDL or high LDL cholesterol.

About Dezima Pharma
Dezima Pharma was founded in 2012 by John Kastelein, professor of medicine at the Department of Vascular Medicine at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and financed by Forbion Capital Partners, BioGeneration Ventures and New Science Ventures, and a EUR 5m loan (Innovation Credit) from the Dutch government through RVO, an agency of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, to develop novel products to treat dyslipidemic patients suffering from cardiovascular disease. TA-8995 is a CETP inhibitor. The company has a Scientific Advisory Board including world-leading experts in the dyslipidemia space such as Dr. Philip Barter, professor at The Heart Research Institute, Sydney, Australia, and Dr. Bryan Brewer, senior research consultant of Lipoprotein and Atherosclerosis Research at the Medstar Research Institute, Washington, D.C.

About Amgen Cardiovascular
Building on more than three decades of experience in developing biotechnology medicines for patients with serious illnesses, Amgen is dedicated to addressing important scientific questions to advance care and improve the lives of patients with cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Amgen's research into cardiovascular disease, and potential treatment options, is part of a growing competency at Amgen that utilizes human genetics to identify and validate certain drug targets. Through its own research and development efforts, as well as partnerships, Amgen is building a robust cardiovascular portfolio consisting of several approved and investigational molecules in an effort to address a number of today's important unmet patient needs, such as high cholesterol and heart failure.

About Amgen
Amgen is committed to unlocking the potential of biology for patients suffering from serious illnesses by discovering, developing, manufacturing and delivering innovative human therapeutics. This approach begins by using tools like advanced human genetics to unravel the complexities of disease and understand the fundamentals of human biology.

Amgen focuses on areas of high unmet medical need and leverages its biologics manufacturing expertise to strive for solutions that improve health outcomes and dramatically improve people's lives. A biotechnology pioneer since 1980, Amgen has grown to be one of the world's leading independent biotechnology companies, has reached millions of patients around the world and is developing a pipeline of medicines with breakaway potential.

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