Alkermes manufacturing technology key to Acorda buyout of Civitas

Yet another biotech M&A deal was announced this week, this time with Ardsley, NY-based Acorda Therapeutics agreeing to buy Civitas Therapeutics for $525 million to get its hands on its Parkinson's disease drug and the special technology needed to deliver it. But there is a manufacturing side story to this deal that goes back more than a decade and involves Alkermes ($ALKS), which is picking up a piece of the payout in this deal.

Civitas is actually a spinoff from Alkermes, which reported in an SEC filing Wednesday that it will get $59 million out of the buyout. It gets $29 million for its 6% ownership of Civitas and "$30 million for the sale of certain commercial-scale pulmonary manufacturing equipment used by Civitas."

Civitas' drug candidate relies on the ARCUS technology that allows complex macromolecules to be delivered through the lung. Alkermes developed that technology after first buying early innovator Advanced Inhalation Research (AIR) in 1999. Alkermes sold Eli Lilly ($LLY) on the idea of using the technology for an inhaled insulin. Lilly threw in some money for Alkermes to build a $40 million lab and manufacturing facility in the Chelsea, MA, Brickyard that could make more than 50 million doses. The 9,000-square-foot facility was completed in 2003. 

The two got very near the finish line with a product when Lilly pulled the partnership on the deal in 2008, leaving Alkermes high and dry, with a plant it had no use for. The company said two weeks later it would close the plant and lay off 150 people. But one of the founding employees at AIR, Rick Batycky, believed in the technology and became a co-founder of Civitas to develop it. Alkermes spun off the technology, some pipeline products and the lab and manufacturing facility to Civitas in 2010.  

Civitas has gone on to develop CVT-301, a Phase III fast-acting rescue formulation of levodopa that can be self-administered through an inhaler to treat OFF episodes of Parkinson's sufferers. It is a system comprised of a dry powder L-dopa formulation that is contained within blister-packed capsules and administered via a proprietary, pocket-size, reusable inhaler. The company said that CVT-301 can provide rapid delivery of L-dopa in conjunction with a patient's optimized oral L-dopa regimen.

- here's the SEC filing
- read the Acorda release