Amgen, on an M&A spree, inks $3.7B ChemoCentryx buyout to boost inflammatory disease presence

Facing one of the biopharma industry’s steepest patent cliffs for the decade, Amgen has been on a shopping spree.

The latest purchase? A $3.7 billion deal to acquire ChemoCentryx.

The proposed takeover gives Amgen Tavneos, which last fall became ChemoCentryx’s first commercial product in its 25-year history. The drug is approved by the FDA to treat a rare autoimmune disease called anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibody-associated (ANCA) vasculitis, in which damage to small blood vessels can cause organ failures, especially in the kidney.

The acquisition “represents a compelling opportunity for Amgen to add to our decades-long leadership in inflammation and nephrology with Tavneos,” Amgen CEO Robert Bradway said in a statement Thursday.

Inflammatory disease marks a key focus area at Amgen. Before the all-cash transaction, Amgen already had psoriasis drug Otezla from a $13.4 billion deal with Celgene back in 2019. And Amgen's TNF blocker Enbrel remains its top-selling product.

Plus, in collaboration with AstraZeneca, the company recently won an early FDA approval for blockbuster-to-be asthma treatment Tezspire.

But the Amgen star inflammatory portfolio could come under pressure. For Otezla, Bristol Myers Squibb’s deucravacitinib, which has an FDA target decision date in September for plaque psoriasis, could be a serious threat. And Enbrel is slated to lose U.S. patent protection in the latter half of the decade.

More broadly, Amgen’s bone meds Prolia and Xgeva are nearing a 2025 patent cliff. PCKS9 cholesterol drug Repatha and CGRP migraine therapy Aimovig both face tough competition in their respective markets. And even Amgen's first-in-class cancer drug Lumakras might soon have to battle Mirati Therapeutics’ rival KRAS inhibitor adagrasib.

That’s why Wall Street analysts have been calling on Amgen to make more deals—and it has. Last year, the California drugmaker made a string of acquisitions, picking up oncology player Five Prime Therapeutics for $1.9 billion, antibody drug specialist Teneobio for $900 million upfront, and tissue regeneration expert Rodeo Therapeutics for $55 million upfront.

But those deals weren’t enough for Amgen’s commercial business.

“At this point, we do not have conviction that the existing pipeline will offset [loss of exclusivity] declines, and we believe Amgen needs to continue to pursue M&A to enhance its internal portfolio,” SVB Securities analysts wrote in a May note.

ChemoCentryx’s addition, with Tavneos’ unadjusted global sales potential at over $2 billion by 2030, marks “a meaningful step” toward filling the upcoming revenue gap, the SVB team wrote in a Thursday note.

ChemoCentryx plans to start a phase 3 test of Tavneos in hidradenitis suppurativa and a new study in lupus nephritis later this year, the SVB team noted. The company also has three early-stage drug candidates that target ulcerative colitis and skin conditions and an oral immune checkpoint inhibitor for cancer.

The ChemoCentryx deal also adds fuel to the anti-inflammation field targeting the complement system. Tavneos is an oral complement component 5a (C5a) receptor inhibitor. Before that, Amgen was already in late-stage development of a biosimilar referencing AstraZeneca’s C5 inhibitor Soliris.

AstraZeneca stimulated the complement field with its $39 billion purchase of Soliris developer Alexion a year ago. In May, Vertex Pharmaceuticals scooped up a portfolio of early-stage complement therapies from foundering Catalyst Biosciences for $60 million.