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Nestlé​ makes newly acquired Aimmune a stand-alone unit, appoints new CEO

Nestlé​ has finished acquiring Aimmune Therapeutics, fashioning the food allergy treatment maker as a stand-alone unit with a new leadership team.Andrew Oxtoby, formerly Aimmune’s chief commercial officer, is now president and CEO, while Aimmune’s pre-buyout chief executive, Jason Dallas, will depart. A longtime executive at Eli Lilly, Oxtoby joined Aimmune last year.The Swiss conglomerate owned about a quarter of Aimmune at the beginning of 2020, and in August agreed to buy the rest in a deal that valued the biotech at about $2.6 billion. The new unit will be part of Nestlé​ Health Science and continue to be known as Aimmune Therapeutics, based in Brisbane, California.

Nestlé​, best known for products such as Nestea and Gerber baby food, is trying to beef up its nutritional science offerings with new technologies tackling food allergies. Aimmune’s Palforzia is the first treatment for children with peanut allergies.

Palforzia won approval in January for treatment of the more than 1 million children and teenagers between the ages of 4 and 17 who suffer from peanut allergies. Analysts had forecast peak revenue of close to $2 billion a year, but initial sales have been negligible. Aimmune reported no net product revenue in the second quarter.

The medicine faces a number of challenges. Studies found patients taking Palforzia were better able to withstand exposure to peanuts, but there was also a higher risk of allergic reaction requiring the use of epinephrine. As a result, the initial dosing and the first administration of each increased dose must take place in a certified health-care setting.

With the COVID-19 pandemic raging, patients have been less willing to visit doctors. And the product’s price tag of $11,000 a year may be daunting for patients and insurers.

Aimmune executives said they’ve seen progress on both fronts. Allergists’ offices are reopening and the company has made “strong progress with payers,” Oxtoby told investors in the company’s second-quarter earnings call.

With its purchase, Nestlé​ is voicing confidence in the company’s technology. The Swiss company said it’s looking forward to treatment of other food allergies and the development of a monoclonal antibody called AIMab7195.

Palforzia’s approval for peanut allergies is “only the beginning,” Nestlé​ Health Science CEO Greg Behar said in a statement.