Migraine drugmaker Alder Biopharmaceuticals to be acquired for nearly $2B by Lundbeck

(Alder Biopharmaceuticals Photo)

Danish drugmaker Lundbeck is set to buy Bothell, Wash.-based Alder Biopharmaceuticals in a deal that could be worth up to $1.95 billion, sending Alder’s stock rocketing up 83 percent on Monday.

Alder CEO Bob Azelby. (Alder Photo)

Alder’s lead drug candidate, eptinezumab, is a therapy for patients with chronic migraines that is currently under review by the FDA. If all goes well, the drug could be available in the U.S. next year.

“Lundbeck is the ideal partner to advance Alder’s mission of changing the treatment paradigm for migraine prevention. We believe this positions eptinezumab for a successful launch both in and outside of the United States,” Alder CEO Bob Azelby said in a statement.

The acquisition is yet more evidence of interest in the Seattle-area biotech market, which has been experiencing a resurgence. The success of local companies was highlighted by the $9 billion acquisition of Juno Therapeutics by Celgene last year, as well as the IPO of Adaptive Biotechnologies in June that valued the company at more than $4 billion.

Eptinezumab would be the fourth FDA approval in a new class of preventative migraine therapies that target the peptide CGRP. Drugmakers Amgen, Eli Lilly, and Teva currently have similar migraine therapies on the market.

Since eptinezumab is delivered by IV infusion, it may be reserved for cases where other CGRP drugs have failed, according to analysts at Jefferies.

Azelby added that the deal gave shareholders “significant and immediate cash value.” The news came a little more than 5 months after Alder raised $170 million in a stock offering.

Lundbeck is set to purchase Alder’s outstanding shares for $18 per share. Alder shareholders could receive an additional $2 per share if eptinezumab is approved by the European Medicines Agency. Lundbeck will finance the deal through its own cash holdings and bank financing.

“Migraine prevention is an attractive indication for us that leverages our specialized commercial expertise in delivering medicines for brain diseases,” said Lundbeck president and CEO Dr. Deborah Dunsire. “We expect the global launch of eptinezumab for the preventive treatment of migraine, as well as the further potential development of the product in additional indications, to accelerate Lundbeck’s growth in the coming years.”

The Lundbeck deal is another major development for Alder under the leadership of Azelby, who, since taking over as CEO in June 2018, has shepherded the company through a slew of executive changes, FDA applications, a large stock offering and now an acquisition. Prior to joining Alder, Azelby was chief commercial officer at Juno Therapeutics.

Lundbeck’s acquisition of Alder is expected to close later this year.