Esperion gets a deal – just not the one investors wanted

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While there are many who have doubted bempedoic acid’s commercial promise as price competition heats up among cholesterol-lowering drugs, Daiichi Sankyo is not among them. The Japan-based group paid Esperion Therapeutics $150m to license the LDL-lowering pill in Europe along with the fixed-dose combo of bempedoic acid and ezetimibe. Another $150m will be due after the first commercial sale in Europe, which should come no earlier than 2020 if Esperion files for approval by the middle of this year, as planned. Royalties of 15-25% will also be due, and more milestones could be won based on the risk reduction shown in bempedoic acid’s cardiovascular outcomes trial, the results of which are due in 2022. The up-front fee will come in handy for completing that trial, as the planned enrolment of 12,600 patients and three-year follow-up will test Esperion’s cash balance, which stood at $168m on September 30. Nevertheless, Esperion shares fell 8% in early trading, so investors were likely hoping for a trade sale, especially since the group’s valuation tumbled during 2018.

Outlook for novel lipid-lowering therapies
    Global sales ($m)
Product Company 2018e 2020e 2022e 2024e
Repatha Amgen 549 1,303 2,567 3,517
Vascepa Amarin 221 610 1,409 1,929
Praluent Sanofi/Regeneron 303 611 890 1,117
Inclisiran The Medicines Company - 25 325 968
MGL-3196 Madrigal - - 125 949
Bempedoic acid Esperion - 76 426 723
Bempedoic acid/ ezetimibe FDC Esperion - 39 228 528
Source: EvaluatePharma.

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