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Aerie to Acquire Dry Eye Disease-Focused Pharma Avizorex

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Aerie Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (AERI - Free Report) signed an agreement to acquire privately-held Spanish ophthalmic pharmaceutical company, Avizorex Pharma, to boost its dry eye disease pipeline. Aerie will pay $10 million upfront to Avizorex for the acquisition. Moreover, shareholders of Avizorex are eligible to receive additional payments related to certain clinical and regulatory milestones, plus royalties on net sales of approved products from the company’s development pipeline. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Avizorex has completed a phase IIa study on lead pipeline candidate, AVX-012, in patients with dry eye disease. Data from the study were positive and demonstrated the therapeutic potential of AVX-012 to treat signs and symptoms of dry eye. Aerie is planning to initiate a phase IIb study on the candidate in late 2020.

Shares of Aerie have plunged 47.3% so far this year against the industry’s growth of 5.8%.

Notably, Aerie’s lead drug Rhopressa was approved by the FDA for the reduction of elevated IOP in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension and is already available in the United States. A regulatory application for the drug is under review in Europe. In September, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has rendered a positive opinion recommending its approval. A final decision is expected by the year-end. Upon approval, the drug will be available under the tradename of Rhokiinsa in Europe.

Aerie's second drug Rocklatan, a once-daily, quadruple-action, fixed-dose combination of Rhopressa and Pfizer's PFE Xalatan, was approved by the FDA in March to lower the elevated IOP in patients with open-angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension.

Aerie plans to submit a marketing authorization application for Rocklatan in Europe following the potential approval of Rhokiinsa in the region.

Meanwhile, we note that though the glaucoma market holds potential, Aerie faces stiff competition from Novartis’ NVS Simbrinza and Travtan, Allergan’s AGN Lumigan, and other smaller biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

Apart from the commercial drugs, Aerie has two early-stage retinal programs in its pipeline — AR-13503 (Rho kinase and Protein kinase C inhibitor implant) and AR-1105 (dexamethasone steroid implant).

Zacks Rank

Aerie currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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