As pharma’s taste for deal-making shows no signs of abating, Shire is snapping up US rare disease group Dyax in a transaction worth around $5.9 billion, and potentially $646 million more.

In a rather candid move, the Dublin, Ireland-based drugmaker has set its sights on Dyax’ hereditary angioedema portfolio and in particular its lead candidate DX-2930, previously considered to pose a threat to Shire’s own HAE franchise.

HEA is a debilitating and potentially life-threatening rare genetic disease that causes swelling in the face, extremities and GI tract. Shire markets Cinryze (C1 inhibitor [human]), acquired through its purchase of ViroPharma, and Firazyr (icatibant) to treat the condition.

Dyax’ DX-2930 is a Phase III-ready, fully humanised monoclonal antibody which, in Phase I proof-of-concept trials, showed a >90% reduction in HAE attacks compared to placebo. The drug has been awarded Fast Track, Breakthrough Therapy, and Orphan Drug designations in the US and also Orphan Drug status in the EU, and is expected to enter Phase III trials by year-end. 

Shire is gunning for approval in the prevention of Type 1 and Type 2 HAE and, if successful, says the drug could bring in annual global sales of up to $2 billion, with regulatory exclusivity beyond 2030.

“DX-2930 is a strategic fit within our HAE domain expertise, and we are well-positioned to advance the development, registration, and commercialisation of DX-2930 for the benefit of HAE patients,” said Shire chief executive Flemming Ornskov, commenting on the deal. But the transaction also offers “other potential upside opportunities”, including Dyax’s early-stage pipeline, he stressed.

Deal 'makes sense'

Noting that the HAE franchise is “very important” to Shire, accounting for around 15% of revenue and 20% of earnings, Bernstein analyst Ronny Gal said its move on Dyax “makes complete sense” given the UK drugmaker’s capabilities in the area and threat of competition.

Under the deal, Shire will acquire Dyax for $37.30 in cash per Dyax share, for aggregate upfront consideration of around $5.9 billion. Dyax shareholders could also receive additional value through a non-tradable contingent value right that will pay $4.00 in cash per Dyax share on approval of DX-2930 in HAE, representing a potential additional $646 million.

Ornskov also stressed that the deal - which has been approved by both boards of directors and is expected to close in the first half of next year, will leave Shire with enough “financial firepower to pursue other value-added strategic acquisitions, including Baxalta”.

Shire unveiled its intent to buy Baxalta in August last year via an all-stock transaction valued at around $30 billion. The firms says the combination would deliver $20 billion in product sales by 2020, though Baxalta is yet to bite on its offer.