Horizon Therapeutics to acquire Viela Bio for $3bn

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Horizon Therapeutics Monoclonal antibodies

Horizon Therapeutics will acquire Viela Bio, helping expand its pipeline for long term growth.

Through the acquisition, Dublin-headquartered Horizon Therapeutics will grow its rare disease medicine portfolio, gaining Uplizna (inebilizumab-cdon), the first and only FDA-approved B-cell-depleting humanized monoclonal antibody for the treatment of eye disease neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) 

Viela Bio – which was founded in 2018 and is based in Gaithersburg, Maryland – has four therapeutic candidates across nine development programs.

“We are pleased that Horizon recognizes the value of our robust R&D pipeline, our commercial medicine Uplizna, which is an important treatment option for patients with NMOSD, and our talented team,”​ said Bing Yao, Ph.D., chairman and chief executive officer, Viela Bio, Inc. “We believe that the combined pipeline, including the pursuit of additional potential indications, has the potential to yield innovative new medicines to treat autoimmune and severe inflammatory diseases. Our collective R&D expertise coupled with Horizon’s commercial capabilities, has the potential to provide benefit to more patients with high unmet treatment needs.”

The transaction, worth $3.05bn, is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2021.

“This acquisition represents a significant step forward in advancing our strategy – to expand our pipeline in order to accelerate our growth over the long term,”​ said Tim Walbert, chairman, president and chief executive officer, Horizon. “Adding Viela’s research and clinical development capabilities along with its deep, mid-stage biologics pipeline to our seasoned R&D and commercial teams, advances our transformation to an innovation-driven biotech company where we will build on the success of Tepezza and Krystexxa to bolster our long-term growth trajectory.”

Viela's pipeline includes four therapeutic candidates in nine development programs.


  • Phase 3 trials in myasthenia gravis, a chronic, rare autoimmune neuromuscular disease and in IgG4-related disease, a group of disorders marked by tumor-like swelling and fibrosis of affected organs.
  • Phase 2 trial for kidney transplant desensitization (paused due to COVID-19).


  • Investigational fusion protein designed to block a key co-stimulatory pathway involved in many autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.
  • Phase 2b trial in Sjögren’s syndrome and Phase 2 trials for kidney transplant rejection and rheumatoid arthritis.


  • Investigational human monoclonal antibody designed to deplete plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs), a cell type believed to be critical to the pathogenesis of multiple autoimmune diseases.
  • Phase 2 trial for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) expected to begin in the first half of 2021.
  • Phase 1 study for the treatment of COVID-19-related acute lung injury.


  • Monoclonal antibody for autoimmune diseases expected to begin Phase 1 first-in-human trial in mid-2021.

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