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Gilead inks a billion-dollar deal for a hepatitis drug

Dive Brief:

  • Gilead has agreed to acquire the German drugmaker Myr Pharmaceuticals and its marketed therapy for chronic hepatitis D, also known as delta hepatitis, in a deal worth a little over $1 billion.

 

  • Hepatitis D is a liver infection that can only happen in people who’ve gotten hepatitis B. Though far less common than other hepatitis viruses, the delta form still affects at least 12 million people globally and 230,000 people in Europe and the U.S., according to Gilead. Hepatitis D can cause severe and lifelong liver damage or even death.

 

  • In July, European regulators gave conditional approval to Myr’s Hepcludex, which works by blocking the hepatitis D virus’ entry into liver cells. Myr has since launched the drug in Austria, France and Germany, and is planning to file for accelerated approval in the U.S. in the back half of 2021. Gilead and Myr said their deal should help to speed up the global launch of Hepcludex.

Dive Insight:

Gilead has been on a dealmaking tear this year. Looking to strengthen its foundation in cancer research, the California-based biotech has dropped north of $27 billion on a series of research pacts, equity investments and all out acquisitions.

Those deals mark a turning point for Gilead, which had built its business not around cancer, but around viruses. The company made a fortune off of effective, often expensive medicines that changed how HIV and hepatitis are treated. But over the past several years, revenue from Gilead’s hepatitis C drugs has plummeted.

The Myr acquisition now catapults Gilead to the front of the hepatitis D market, as Hepcludex is currently the first and only medicine conditionally approved by the EMA to treat the infection.

Terms of the deal require Gilead to pay about 1.15 billion euros, or roughly $1.4 billion, in cash up front. The biotech has also agreed to pay Myr up to 300 million euros, dependent on Hepcludex securing approval in the U.S.

Gilead expects the acquisition to start being moderately accretiative to non-GAAP earnings per share two years after it closes.