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Shire Adding Cinryze to Rare Disease Portfolio via $4.2B Viropharma Buy

By Nuala Moran

Staff Writer

LONDON – Shire plc is paying $4.2 billion to acquire Viropharma Inc, giving it a stranglehold on the market for hereditary angioedema (HAE) treatments, with the leading products for prophylaxis and for treating acute attacks both residing in the same portfolio.

Talk of a possible deal has been bubbling for several weeks and shareholders who were invested in Viropharma before the first rumor surfaced in September will be getting a 64 percent premium. As it is, the offer of $50 per share represents a 27 percent premium to Viropharma’s closing price on Friday.

The deal will bring together Viropharma’s Cinryze (C1 esterase), an intravenously administered treatment for HAE prophylaxis, with Shire’s Firazyr (icatibant) for treating acute attacks of HAE, a rare disease that is estimated to affect 18,000 people in the U.S. and Europe.

The addition of Cinryze - which had sales of $102 million in the third quarter of 2013 – brings the total of orphan drugs marketed by Shire to five, and will boost the company’s rare diseases revenues to $2 billion in 2014, meaning this class of products accounts for 40 percent of sales, against 30 percent currently.

Although this is Dublin-based Shire’s fourth acquisition this year, buying Viropharma dwarfs the other three deals combined and sees new CEO Flemming Ornskov make his mark on the company. “We have another growth engine to add to our portfolio and add to our growth prospects, [Cinryze] is highly complementary to Firzyr,” Ornskov said.  

Despite the aim of merging two such dominant products in such an uncommon disease, Ornskov told BioWorld Today he is confident the deal will get antitrust clearance. The company devoted considerable effort to this aspect in its due diligence. “These are two different and distinct markets, and that will be our position going into negotiations with the FTC [Federal Trade Commission],” he said, “We will be filing the documents to the FTC tomorrow.”