Horizon Therapeutics Said Near Deal to Buy Switzerland's Nitec Pharma AG
Horizon Therapeutics Inc., a U.S. developer of pain medications, is close to an agreement to buy Switzerland's Nitec Pharma AG, said a person with knowledge of the transaction.
The combined company will be based at Horizon's headquarters in Northbrook, Illinois, said the person, who declined to be identified because the talks are private. Executives of Nitec, which was spun off from Darmstadt, Germany- based Merck KGaA in 2004, and Horizon declined to comment.
Reinach, Switzerland-based Nitec's treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and associated morning stiffness, Lodotra, is sold in Germany by Merck. Horizon makes pain drugs by combining existing medicines. Horizon's lead product is a combination of the painkiller ibuprofen and famotidine, a stomach ulcer medicine designed to reduce gastrointestinal side effects.
The person didn't discuss terms of the deal. U.S. drugmakers announced 83 acquisitions of European pharmaceutical companies over the last five years, with an average value of $726.6 million including net debt, according to Bloomberg data. The typical premium in those deals was 6 percent above the average closing price in the 20 days of trading before the acquisitions were announced.
Nitec developed Lodotra using technology licensed from SkyePharma Plc. The medicine is a new form of the steroid drug prednisone that delays the chemical's release for several hours, allowing patients who take the pill at bedtime to feel less stiff in the morning. Nitec in 2009 sold European rights to the therapy outside Germany and Austria to Mundipharma International Ltd. of Cambridge, England.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when the immune system attacks the joints, causing swelling, pain and damage that can lead to deformity and disability. The disease afflicts about 1.3 million American adults, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Investors in Horizon include Scale Venture Partners, Pequot Ventures and Sutter Hill Ventures. Nitec is owned by its two founders, Achim Schaeffler and Jochen Mattis, as well as venture-capital firms Atlas Venture, Global Life Science Ventures, NGN Capital and TVM Capital.
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