- Thomson Reuters
It’s been a busy month for Botox-maker Allergan.
On Tuesday morning the company announced that it had acquired Tobira Therapeutics, which is developing two treatments for a liver condition called NASH in a deal worth $1.65 billion.
Later that afternoon, the company announced it had also acquired Akarna Therapeutics, a private company also working on drugs to treat NASH. That deal was worth $50 million up-front.
Tobira closed Tuesday up more than 700% after the acquisition was announced.
NASH, short for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, is a type of liver disease in which liver fat builds up in people. People with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and insulin resistance are all at an elevated risk of developing the disease, though much about its causes remains unknown. NASH has become more common in recent years, and is often called a “silent” disease since most people don’t know they have it until it leads to problems like cirrhosis and liver failure. It affects up to 100 million Americans.
“With the increasing rates of diabetes, obesity, and other metabolic conditions in the US and in developed nations globally, NASH is set to become one of the next epidemic-level chronic diseases we face as a society,” Allergan CEO Brent Saunders said in a statement announcing the Tobira acquisition.
There aren’t any approved treatments for NASH, but the NIH suggests avoiding alcohol, eating healthy, losing weight (if the person is overweight) and exercising more as ways that can cut down on liver fat and even, in some cases, reverse the course of the disease.
With the acquisition of Tobira, Allergan’s picking up two drugs for NASH: evogliptin, which is in preclinical stages and cenicriviroc, which is currently in human trials. Akarna brings one more preclinical program, called AKN-083.
This is Allergan’s fourth deal this month: Last week, it acquired dermatology company Vitae Pharmaceuticals, and a week before it acquired a gene therapy company called RetroSense Therapeutics. Allergan’s CEO Brent Saunders also made a “social contract” with patients, in which he pledged to put limits on the size and frequency of drug price hikes.