Allergan makes two Californian acquisitions to bolster NASH liver disease treatment portfolio

Will buy Tobira Therapeutics for US$1.7bn and Akarna Therapeutics for $50m

Brent Saunders

Allergan has agreed to buy Tobira Therapeutics of South San Francisco, CA, US in a deal worth up to $1.7 billion.

Tobira, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, focuses on developing treatments for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and other liver diseases.

NASH is a severe type of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and occurs when the accumulation of liver fat is accompanied by inflammation and cellular damage.

The inflammation can lead to scarring of the liver and eventually progress to cirrhosis, portal hypertension, liver cancer and eventual liver failure.

NASH is set to become one of the next epidemic-level chronic diseases we face as a society

The acquisition adds Cenicriviroc (CVC) and Evogliptin to Allergan's global Gastroenterology R&D pipeline.

'NASH is set to become one of the next epidemic-level chronic diseases we face as a society,' said Brent Saunders, CEO and President of Allergan.

'With this acquisition, Allergan will now have one of the strongest portfolios of development stage programmes for the treatment of NASH, with Cenicriviroc as the cornerstone,' he added.

In a separate deal this week, Allergan further bolstered its NASH pipeline with the purchase of privately held Akarna Therapeutics, based in Encinitas, CA, for $50 million plus potential milestone payments that were not disclosed.

'The acquisition of Akarna adds to our strategic approach to investing in innovation to advance the treatment of NASH for millions of patients who currently do not have therapeutic options to treat the disease,' said Saunders.

Akarna's investigational treatment for NASH, called AKN-083, targets a certain hormone receptor in the liver and is in early stage studies.

Allergan said AKN-083 is highly complementary to the investigational NASH therapies purchased in the Tobira deal.

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