Cash-strapped Aegerion scouts for deals to recover from financial hits

Aegerion

With its share price in a funk and little cash on hand, Aegerion is looking to offer its rare disease sales prowess as one part of a potential deal to dig itself out of a hole.

Though its deal options are limited--given its lack of ready cash--the company is in an “ongoing effort to identify and evaluate additional pipeline candidates to treat rare diseases with unmet need,” including potential acquisitions or partnerships, Aegerion's associate director of investor and public relations Amanda Murphy wrote to FiercePharma in an email.

"[W]e believe we have proven leadership and ability to execute development and regulatory approvals and commercialization globally, and so are looking at opportunities where the seller/partner values these capabilities and would be interested in structuring an arrangement that can work for Aegerion (i.e. back-end loaded, milestones, etc.),” Murphy added.

Aegerion clearly needs to find new ways to boost revenue. Earlier this week, the company reported that sales for its cholesterol-lowering drug Juxtapid had dropped to $26 million, less than half of the $57 million it raked in during last year’s first quarter. And it cut full-year Juxtapid sales estimates to between $90 million and $100 million, down from $120 million to $140 million previously.

Overall, the Cambridge, MA-based company pulled back its 2016 guidance to between $130 million and $150 million in sales, down from the $160 million to $190 million it had previously forecast.

And that was the second in a one-two punch for the drugmaker this month, coming just days after a $40 million preliminary agreement with the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission over mismarketing practices for Juxtapid. Aegerion agreed to pay $40 million over 5 years, with the payments being “backend weighted,” CEO Mary Szela explained on the company’s conference call this week.

So, with $43 million in cash on hand, a market cap of $42 million and shares trading at $1.78 as of Thursday morning--less than 10% of what they were a year ago--Aegerion is “working to add new products to business development initiatives and opportunities,” Szela told investors.

Szela said the cash position is a “near-term priority,” and that the company’s global infrastructure for rare disease meds could serve as an asset as part of a deal.

“We believe there are some few transactions out there where our capabilities could be quite complementary to companies and their portfolio. That would potentially come with cash and/or would bring synergies that we think makes a lot of sense,” she said on the call.

Aegerion’s $42.7 million in cash is down from $64.5 million in December 2015 and down from $82 million in July 2015.

Szela took the reins at Aegerion in January after the company parted with its former CEO, Marc Beer, who got it into trouble for talking too freely about Juxtapid. With the DOJ and SEC arrangement worked out, Szela said the company is working to grow the markets for its meds, build a "broad and sustainable pipeline" and establish "an organization of the right size and structure to support these activities.”

- here's the Q1 release
- and the call transcript from Seeking Alpha

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