The $39bn deal, announced in December 2020, will support AstraZeneca’s ambitions to develop novel medicines in immunology. Boston-based biotech Alexion has pioneered complement inhibition for a broad spectrum of immune-mediated rare diseases caused by uncontrolled activation of the complement system, a vital part of the immune system.
The green light from the UK Competition and Markets Authority represents the last in a series of global competition clearances: following that from the EU, US, Japan, South Korea and Israel among others.
Marc Dunoyer, executive director and chief financial officer, AstraZeneca, said: “We are very pleased to have secured this critical final clearance from the UK Competition and Markets Authority for the acquisition of Alexion. We look forward to the imminent closing of the transaction so that we may pursue our shared ambition to bring more innovative medicines to patients worldwide and begin AstraZeneca’s next chapter of growth.”
Dedicated rare disease unit in Boston
Over 7,000 rare diseases are known today; yet only approximately 5% have treatments approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. AstraZeneca eyes up low double-digit percentage growth in demand for medicines for rare diseases through 2026.
The British-Swedish pharma giant has been increasing its efforts in immunology research and the development of medicines for immune-mediated diseases. As part of the acquisition of Alexion, AstraZeneca will establish a dedicated rare disease unit in Boston and accelerate worldwide expansion of Alexion’s portfolio.
Led by anti-complement component 5 (C5) monoclonal antibody soliris (eculizumab), Alexion has five approved medicines (andexxa, kanuma, soliris, strensiq, and ultomiris) and a pipeline of 11 molecules in 20+ clinical development programs.
Alexion is focused in complement biology; with the complement cascade pivotal to the innate immune system. This plays a crucial role in many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases across multiple therapy areas: such as haematology, nephrology, neurology, metabolic disorders, cardiology, ophthalmology and acute care.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca says its capabilities in genomics, precision medicine and oligonucleotides can be leveraged to develop medicines targeting less-frequent diseases.
AstraZeneca says the combined companies can bring together “two rapidly converging, patient-centric models of care delivery with combined strengths in immunology, biologics, genomics and oligonucleotides to drive future medicine innovation.”
Shareholders of both companies voted in support of the acquisition in May this year.