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Biotech Stock Roundup: XenoPort Soars on Acquisition Deal, AbbVie Crohn's Disease Drug Fares Well

Arpita Dutt

Acquisitions and deals are picking up pace in the biotech sector with quite a few announcements being made over the last few days. XenoPort XNPT agreed to be acquired by Arbor Pharmaceuticals and saw its shares shoot up on the news. Meanwhile, specialty biopharma company Biodel BIOD will be combining with Albireo.

Apart from this, AbbVie ABBV came out with encouraging interim data on its recently in-licensed immunology drug.

Recap of the Week’s Most Important Stories

1. XenoPort’s XNPT shares shot up 56.4% on news that the company has agreed to be acquired by Arbor Pharmaceuticals for a total equity value of about $467 million – a 60% premium to XenoPort’s closing share price on May 20. Arbor should be better-positioned to market XenoPort’s Horizant, currently approved for restless legs syndrome and postherpetic neuralgia (Read more: Xenoport to be Acquired by Arbor Pharmaceuticals; Stock Up).

2. Specialty biopharma company Biodel BIOD is combining with Albireo Limited, a privately held biopharmaceutical company to form an entity that will focus on orphan pediatric liver diseases and other liver and gastrointestinal diseases and disorders.

Lead pipeline candidate, A4250, is in a phase II study in children with cholestatic liver disease. The target is to develop A4250 for the treatment of progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis, an orphan pediatric liver disease with no approved drugs.

Albireo has another pipeline candidate, elobixibat, which is currently being evaluated in a phase III program by a Japanese licensee for the treatment of chronic constipation.

3. Horizon Pharma HZNP signed a deal to acquire the rights to interferon gamma-1b, which is commercialized by Boehringer Ingelheim under the trade names Imukin, Imukine, Immukin and Immukine in about 30 countries mainly in Europe and the Middle East. The deal, slated to close by year end, will see Horizon paying €5 million on signing and €20 million on closing (Read more: Horizon to Buy Global Rights to Actimmune, Stock Down).

4. AbbVie’s recently in-licensed biologic compound, risankizumab, fared well in a phase II, proof-of concept study in patients with moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease. About twice as many patients on risankizumab achieved clinical remission compared to placebo after 12 weeks. The interim results indicate that selective blockade of IL-23 with risankizumab could present patients with a new treatment option. Moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease patients who have failed anti-TNF therapy currently have limited treatment options. The study will continue up to 52 weeks.

AbbVie had licensed risankizumab from Boehringer Ingelheim with the intention of boosting its immunology pipeline. Risankizumab is currently in phase III development for psoriasis.

5. Acorda ACOR has decided to terminate the development of one of its most advanced pipeline candidates – Plumiaz Nasal Spray, which was being evaluated for the treatment of seizure clusters in people with epilepsy. With data from ongoing studies showing that Plumiaz did not demonstrate its bioequivalence to Diastat rectal gel, Acorda decided to discontinue the development of the product which became a part of its pipeline following its Dec 2012 acquisition of Neuronex. Acorda was forecasting Plumiaz U.S. annual peak sales of more than $200 million (Read more: Acorda Shelves Development of Epilepsy Treatment, Plumiaz).

Performance

All the major biotech stocks performed well last week with Vertex VRTX recording a gain of 9.55%. Meanwhile, Vertex lost 33.58% over the last six months.

The NASDAQ Biotechnology Index was up 4.93% over the last five trading days (See the last biotech stock roundup here: Pfizer to Buy Anacor for $5.2B, Pipeline Setbacks for Aduro, Trevena).

What's Next in the Biotech World?

An important FDA decision is coming up this week regarding the approval status of Intercept’s ICPT Ocaliva (primary biliary cholangitis).

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