Apellis Pharma and its rare disease, eyecare drugs draw takeover interest: Bloomberg

Amid a recent streak of rare disease M&A deals in the biopharma industry, Apellis has attracted takeover interest, Bloomberg reports. 

The rare diseases and ophthalmology specialist is being eyed by larger drugmakers, people with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg. The company, which is currently speaking with advisors to weigh its options, might also put partnerships or licensing agreements on the table, Bloomberg reports.

A buyout is by no means a sure thing. The company currently prefers to stay independent, two of the people told Bloomberg.

Apellis in February scored an FDA nod for geographic atrophy treatment Syfovre, the first drug approved to treat the advanced stage of age-related macular degeneration. The launch is the culmination of four years’ worth of “intense” work, co-founder and CEO Cedric Francois, M.D., Ph.D., said in a recent interview with Fierce Pharma. Evaluate Pharma has predicted that the drug will bring in sales of $2.6 billion by 2028 in geographic atrophy sales.

Elsewhere, the Massachusetts-based company also has C3 inhibitor Empaveli under its wing. The drug uses the same active ingredient as Syfovre but carries a separate brand name in the rare blood disorder paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). Empaveli brought in $65 million in U.S. sales last year. 

Rare disease drugmakers have been drawing takeover interest across the board lately. BridgeBio is also being evaluated as a potential target for larger pharma companies, Bloomberg reported in March, citing people familiar with the matter. The genetic diseases and cancer maker aims to reach $2 billion in annual sales in the next five years.

Then of course there was Amgen’s monumental $28 billion Horizon Therapeutics buyout late last year, the biggest biopharma M&A deal of 2022. Amgen expects to begin seeing a return on the purchase, which includes Horizon’s collection of commercial medicines for rare diseases, in 2024.