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Jazz Pharmaceuticals to acquire rare disease company Gentium

Authored by James Sheppard

Jazz Pharmaceuticals, based in Dublin, Ireland, recently announced that it had acquired Italian based rare disease drug company Gentium in a $1bn deal. The deal will give Jazz access to Gentium’s 3 marketed products and extensive rare disease pipeline

The purchase of Gentium gives Jazz access to Defitelio which was recently approved by European regulators for the treatment of severe hepatic veno-occlusive disease (VOD) in adults undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation therapy. Defitelio has also received orphan drug designation from the EMA for the prevention of Graft vs Host Disease (GvHD).

Jazz Pharmaceuticals expect to develop Defielio further in GvHD and VOD and seek approval in other indications. One major task on Jazz’s agenda will be to gain regulatory approval in the USA. Having previously filled for approval with the FDA in 2011 it was rejected due to question marks about the completeness of the data set. Jazz has made its intentions very clear to refile and seek approval in other international markets. However Defielio’s future in the USA is still very unclear.

Bruce Cozadd, CEO of Jazz said: ‘Incorporating Gentium into Jazz Pharmaceuticals is a strong strategic fit as Defitelio would diversify our development and commercial portfolio and complement our clinical experience.’ Dr Khalid Islam, CEO of Gentium added: ‘we believe that Jazz Pharmaceuticals’ commercial and clinical expertise, and existing multi-national infrastructure, will help realize the value of Defitelio to patients, as the first treatment approved in the EU for the treatment of severe hepatic VOD.’

Under the leadership of Bruce Cozadd, Jazz Pharmaceuticals have diversified their revenue base, moved their corporate HQ to Dublin (giving it tax structure advantages) and defend itself from rumours of its own acquisition. The purchases of EUSA Pharma ($680m) added Erwinase™ to the portfolio in acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, Azur Pharma and Gentium (once complete) will have succeeded in strengthening Jazz’s position in the market and diversifying their offering. The deal has met with some Gentium investor resistance as they contest the value of the offer accepted by the board does not reflect the value of the company. Jazz continues to acquire the issued ordinary shares and ADSs and has set a new deadline for the remaining.

However, many analysts and pharma companies are beginning to sit up and take notice of Jazz Pharmaceuticals. The extra attention has also meant that in recent weeks Jazz has placed itself firmly back in the M&A rumours column. With a market cap of around $8bn Jazz may well begin to interest some suitors in the coming months. It was tipped as a certain acquisition target among commentators in the January predictions for 2014. I guess we’ll see.

Liftstream is an executive search and interim management recruitment company working solely within the global life science field. 

Posted in M&A Finance and Funding, Orphan Drugs and Rare Diseases, Pharmaceutical business | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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