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Allergan to Divest Brazikumab, Zenpep to Close AbbVie Merger

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Allergan plc AGN along with AbbVie ABBV announced a definitive agreement to divest Allergan’s mid-stage candidate brazikumab and marketed drug, Zenpep to UK-based AstraZeneca AZN and Swiss consumer giant Nestle, respectively. The terms of the deal are yet to be announced.

Brazikumab, an IL-23 inhibitor, is currently being evaluated in a phase IIb/III study as a potential treatment for Crohn’s Disease. It is also being developed for treating ulcerative colitis in a mid-stage study. Zenpep is approved for treating exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to cystic fibrosis and other conditions. Moreover, Nestle will also acquire another pancreatic enzyme preparation drug, Viokace, as part of the agreement.

These divestments are subject to approval from Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) and European Commission (“EC”), closing of pending acquisition of Allergan by AbbVie and fulfillment of other customary closing conditions.

Allergan’s share price has risen 30.2% in the past year against the industry’s decrease of 5.4%.

In June 2019, AbbVie announced an agreement to acquire Allergan in a cash-and-stock deal worth nearly $63 billion. AbbVie offered $120.30 in cash and 0.866 of its share for each share of Allergan. The acquisition is expected to close in early 2020, if all necessary approvals are obtained. The deal is likely to help AbbVie to diversify its portfolio and reduce dependency on Humira.

The divestment deals were made in relation to satisfy ongoing regulatory approval process being conducted by FTC and EC, which are reviewing the acquisition of Allergan by AbbVie. Please note that the EC conditionally approved the acquisition earlier this month, subject to the approved divestiture of brazikumab and other conditions.

We remind investors that the company has IL-23 inhibitor, Skyrizi, in its portfolio which was approved in April 2019 as a treatment for moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis. The regulatory agencies were concerned about a possible overlap between Skyrizi and brazikumab. AbbVie is currently developing Skyrizi as a potential treatment for psoriatic arthritis. Sales of the drug in 2019 is estimated to be approximately $275 million. The drug also has multi-billion dollar potential and will likely partially offset loss of sales from AbbVie’s key drug, Humira, following generic entry in the United States.

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Allergan carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). Pfizer (PFE - Free Report) is another top-ranked stock in the large-cap space and sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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