Japan’s Astellas to Buy Audentes for $3 Billion in Gene Therapy Push
Japan’s Astellas Pharma Inc. has agreed to buy Audentes Therapeutics Inc. for about $3 billion in cash as it seeks to make genetic medicines a key area of growth.
Gene therapies are one of the hottest areas of drug research and Astellas, Japan’s second-largest drugmaker by sales, is offering $60 per share for San Francisco-based Audentes, a 110% premium to its closing price on Monday.
Gene therapies aim to cure diseases by replacing the missing or mutated version of a gene found in a patient’s cells with healthy copies. With the potential to cure devastating illnesses in a single dose, drugmakers say they justify prices well above $1 million per patient.
Audentes’ investigational drug, AT132, is being developed to treat a rare genetic neuromuscular disorder, which results in extreme muscle weakness, respiratory failure and in some cases early death.
“Audentes has developed a robust pipeline of promising product candidates which are complementary to our existing pipeline, including its lead program AT132,” Astellas Chief Executive Kenji Yasukawa said in a news release.
The companies plan to seek FDA approval for AT312 in mid-2020. The drug has shown promising results in the treatment of X-linked myotubular myopathy (XLMTM) seen mainly in male infants.
Shares in Astellas fell 1.3% on Tuesday in Tokyo, underperforming a 0.6% decline in the broader market.
Morgan Stanley & Co LLC, is Astellas’ financial adviser while Covington & Burling LLP is the company’s legal counsel.
Centerview Partners LLC is acting as financial adviser to Audentes and Fenwick & West LLP is its legal counsel.
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