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Japan’s Astella Pharma agrees to acquire US biotech group Iveric Bio for $5.9bn dollars

Astella Pharma is Japan’s second pharmaceutical firm by revenue, with a market cap of over $28 billion, committed to the therapeutic fields of urology, immunology, oncology and more. Astellas Pharma is set to acquire US biotech company Iveric Bio (announced 1st May 2023) for approximately $5.9bn. Astella’s key takeaway will be the access to the rapidly expanding market for age-related eye diseases.

Astellas has been active in acquiring overseas assets since 2007, spending more than ¥1tn ($7.3bn) in overseas acquisitions and partnerships, including its $3bn purchase of US drugmaker Audentes Therapeutics in 2020 and its $3.8bn takeover of US-based oncology specialist OSI Pharmaceuticals in 2010. The acquisition of Iveric Bio marks the company's largest acquisition to date.

Iveric Bio's most promising product Astellas Pharma is keen to get their hands on is its experimental drug, Avacincaptad Pegol (ACP). It has undergone trials as a treatment for geographic atrophy, an eye disease that affects 1.6 million patients in the US, and with immense expected returns. Astellas expects the acquisition to support its focus on “Blindness & Regeneration”, as well as to provide it with a foundation of ophthalmology focused capabilities, including an expert network, a multi-faceted commercial team and experience in the field.

The purchase of Iveric Bio appears to diverge from Astellas’s usual strategy of buying early-stage products. However, it is hoped that the acquisition will reassure investors who are concerned about patents expiring. The company is also under pressure as its US patent for prostate cancer drug Xtandi is set to expire in 2027, and sales have been slowing faster than expected. Despite this, Astellas is said to be actively looking for new opportunities for further expansion.

Written By Siya Goyal

Sources: Financial Times, Iveric Bio Investor Relations, Pharmaceutical Technology

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