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Shire To Acquire Rare Disease Firm NPS

Pharmaceuticals: Deal for $5.2 billion is first for Shire since aborted takeover by AbbVie

by Michael McCoy
January 12, 2015

Turning from hunted to hunter, the Irish specialty drug company Shire has signed a deal to acquire NPS Pharmaceuticals, a New Jersey-based developer of drugs for rare diseases, for $5.2 billion.

Shire, which markets rare disease, neuroscience, and gastrointestinal drugs, was in the news last July as the object of a $54 billion acquisition by AbbVie. The deal would have allowed Illinois-based AbbVie to move its headquarters to the U.K. and reap significant tax savings. AbbVie canceled it in October after the U.S. Treasury Department announced new rules that would make such transactions, known as inversions, less lucrative.

As a penalty for dropping the agreement, AbbVie paid Shire a $1.6 billion breakup fee. Armed with that cash, Shire vowed to stay independent and double its annual sales to $10 billion by 2020.

Acquiring NPS is Shire’s first step toward making good on that promise, although it won’t get the company very far, at least at first. NPS has only one product: Gattex, a treatment for adults with a rare disease known as short bowel syndrome. NPS said last fall that it expected Gattex to have sales of $100 million to $110 million in 2014.

The company’s second product, a treatment for hypoparathyroidism, is being reviewed by regulators in the U.S. and Europe.

In announcing the purchase of NPS, Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov said he expects Shire’s expertise in both rare diseases and gastrointestinal drugs to benefit the smaller firm. “We look forward to accelerating the growth of the NPS Pharma portfolio based on our proven track record of maximizing value from acquired assets and commercial execution,” Ornskov said.


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