The Italian pharmaceutical company Angelini Pharma announced on January 4, 2021, that it will acquire emerging Swiss biotech company Arvelle Therapeutics for a total aggregate valuation of up to $960 million. Angelini Pharma will pay Arvelle Therapeutics $610 million following the European Medicines Agency’s (“EMA”) approval of the epilepsy drug cenobamate, sold under the brand name Xcopri®. Arvelle will also receive another $350 million if cenobamate reaches certain revenue targets.
Cenobamate is a small molecule that acts positively to modulate the γ-aminobutyric acid (“GABAA”) ion channel and inhibit voltage-gated sodium currents. SK Biopharmaceuticals, Co., Ltd. (“SK Biopharmaceuticals”) and its U.S. subsidiary SK Life Science, Inc. developed cenobamate and obtained various patents directed to cenobamate, including Patent Nos. US7,598,279B2 and EP1879873B1. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) approved cenobamate in November 2019 for the treatment of partial (focal) onset seizures in adult patients. The EMA accepted the marketing authorization application (“MAA”) for cenobamate in March 2020 and is expected to recommend approval at either the January or February 2021 meeting of the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use.
Arvelle Therapeutics was formed in early 2019 with $180 million in series A financing from an LSP-led global syndicate of investors that included NovaQuest, BRV Capital Management, Andera Partners, and H.I.G. BioHealth Partners. In February 2019, Arvelle Therapeutics entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with SK Biopharmaceuticals for Arvelle Therapeutics to develop and commercialize cenobamate in Europe. Under the agreement, SK Biopharmaceuticals received an upfront payment of $100 million and was eligible to receive up to $430 million upon achievement of certain regulatory and commercial milestones in addition to royalties on net sales generated in Europe.
Upon the close of Angelini Pharma’s merger with Arvelle Therapeutics, Angelini will become the exclusive European licensee of cenobamate. Angelini Pharma plans to begin marketing cenobamate in Europe as soon as it receives approval from the EMA.