Biogen to acquire Reata, makers of Skyclarys, in $7.3 billion agreement

Deal expected to help in making Skyclarys more readily available to patients

Marisa Wexler, MS avatar

by Marisa Wexler, MS |

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In a deal worth more than $7 billion, Biogen is acquiring Reata Pharmaceuticals, the developers of Skyclarys (omaveloxolone), which earlier this year became the first approved treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia in the U.S.

“This is a unique opportunity for Biogen to bolster our near-term growth trajectory, and SKYCLARYS is an excellent complement to our global portfolio of treatments for neuromuscular and rare disease,” Christopher Viehbacher, president and CEO of Biogen, said in a company press release announcing the deal.

“Biogen’s expertise and commercial footprint make it the optimal choice to help SKYCLARYS realize its full potential,” said Warren Huff, Reata’s chairman and CEO.

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Reata expects Skyclarys to become standard of care for Friedreich’s ataxia

Skyclarys is designed to boost energy production in cells, which is impaired in people with Friedreich’s ataxia. Data from clinical trials demonstrated that the daily oral therapy’s use can slow the disease’s progression.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Skyclarys in February to treat patients ages 16 and older, making it the first treatment for Friedreich’s ataxia to win FDA approval. The therapy is up for potential approval in the European Union.

Under the acquisition deal, Biogen will acquire Reata by paying $172.50 in cash per share of Reata’s stock, which works out to a total value of about $7.3 billion. The move is expected to slightly reduce Biogen’s overall earnings this year, but the company expects that the acquisition will lead to an increase in its earnings by 2025.

The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by Reata stockholders and regulatory authorities.

Biogen is no stranger to therapies for rare diseases like Friedreich’s ataxia. The company markets Spinraza (nusinersen), which in late 2016 became the first FDA-approved therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a rare genetic disorder that causes muscle weakness and wasting. A few months ago, the FDA approved Qalsody (tofersen), a Biogen therapy for certain patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

“With extensive expertise in rare disease product development and global commercialization, as demonstrated by SPINRAZA and the recent launch of QALSODY, we believe Biogen has the foundation in place to accelerate the delivery of SKYCLARYS to patients around the world,” Viehbacher said.

“With its clear understanding of the rare disease patient journey and existing commercial infrastructure, we believe Biogen will establish SKYCLARYS as the standard of care in the treatment of this devastating genetic disease,” Huff said.