Express Pharma

Sobi buys rare-disease drug emapalumab, zooms in on hematology and immunology

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The drug-maker said that it would buy a newly established company owning the drug candidate for the treatment of primary haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH)

Rare diseases specialist Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (Sobi) has agreed to buy the drug emapalumab and is reorganising to increase focus on late-stage development in hematology and immunology.

The drugmaker said that it would buy a newly established company owning the drug candidate for the treatment of primary haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), and related assets, for 4.9 billion crowns ($519 mn).

HTH is a rare life-threatening condition in which the immune system attacks tissues and organs, mainly in young children.

Sobi signed an exclusive license agreement in 2018 with Swiss company Novimmune for the rights to emapalumab, with an option to buy all assets at a later stage.

Sobi said the refocusing of its research and development operations, at a cost of 100–200 million crowns in 2019, would lead to annual savings of 200–300 million from 2020 that would allow it to invest more in late-stage development projects.

“This planned structural alignment will sharpen the focus of the company on our two main areas: Hematology and Immunology. The integration of the emapalumab organization makes this alignment possible,” CEO Guido Oelkers said.

The rival to Roche, Novo Nordisk and Shire said it expected the acquisition, which is debt financed, to be earnings neutral in 2019.

It stuck to its target for a full-year profit before amortization of 5.0-5.3 billion crowns on sales of 12.5-13.0 billion.

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