Biogen, Ionis Expand $1-Billion Neurological Disease Alliance

May 1, 2018

The companies plan to advance programs for dementia and other neurological conditions.

Biogen and Ionis, a Carlsbad, CA-based biopharmaceutical company specializing in RNA-targeted drug discovery and development, announced on April 20, 2018 that they have expanded their collaboration through a new $1-billion, ten-year agreement to develop novel antisense drug candidates for a range of neurological diseases.

Under the terms of the collaboration, Biogen will pay Ionis $1 billion in cash, which will include $625 million to purchase 11,501,153 shares of Ionis common stock at a price of $54.34 per share, at an approximately 25% cash premium, and a $375 million upfront payment. Biogen will have the option to license therapies arising out of this collaboration and will be responsible for their development and commercialization. In addition, Biogen may pay milestone payments, license fees, and royalties on net sales.

The companies plan to advance programs for a range of neurological diseases, including dementia, neuromuscular diseases, movement disorders, ophthalmology, diseases of the inner ear, and neuropsychiatry. 

According to Biogen, it will have the first choice of neurology targets on which to exclusively collaborate with Ionis. Ionis will be responsible for the identification of antisense drug candidates based on selected targets, while Biogen will be responsible for and pay for non-clinical studies, clinical development, manufacturing, and commercialization.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including the expiration of the applicable waiting period under the Hart Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 in the United States. Biogen and Ionis expect the deal to close in the second quarter of 2018.

This new alliance builds upon a previous collaboration that produced Spinraza (nusinersen), a treatment for patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) that became the first FDA-approved treatment for SMA in December 2016 and reached $884 million in 2017 sales.

“Biogen and Ionis share a commitment and passion to bring new therapeutic options to those living with neurological diseases where the unmet medical need is high and growing,” said Michel Vounatsos, CEO of Biogen, in a company press release. “We believe that this new collaboration will allow us to meaningfully expand our neuroscience pipeline in a way that differentiates Biogen. With the large number of diseases that could benefit from Ionis’ antisense platform, we believe that the time is now to build upon our highly productive collaboration with Ionis as we aim to transform the treatment of neurological diseases around the world.”

Source: Biogen