Vertex Pharmaceuticals Moves Beyond $10B Cystic Fibrosis Franchise, Pays Around $5B For Kidney Disease Player Alpine Immune

Zinger Key Points
  • Vertex has built its business on genetic medicines for cystic fibrosis, which generated almost $10 billion in revenues in 2023.
  • Vertex looks forward to fully exploring Alpine's povetacicept's potential as a 'pipeline-in-a-product.'

On Wednesday, Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated VRTX agreed to acquire Alpine Immune Sciences Inc ALPN for $65 per share or approximately $4.9 billion in cash

Alpine’s lead molecule, povetacicept (ALPN-303), is a highly potent and effective dual antagonist of BAFF (B cell activating factor) and APRIL (a proliferation inducing ligand). 

Through Phase 2 development, povetacicept has shown potential best-in-class efficacy in IgA nephropathy (IgAN), a type of kidney disease.

Povetacicept is on track to enter Phase 3 clinical development in the second half of 2024.

Vertex has built its business on genetic medicines for cystic fibrosis, which generated almost $10 billion in revenues in 2023

The company recently added to its portfolio therapy for blood disorders sickle cell disease and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia

In the kidney disease category, Vertex’s pipeline includes Phase 3 inaxapalin for APOL1-mediated kidney disease and early-stage candidate VX-407 for autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease.

“Alpine is a compelling strategic fit for Vertex and furthers our ambition of using scientific innovation to create transformative medicines targeting serious diseases with high unmet need in specialty markets,” said Reshma Kewalramani, CEO and President of Vertex.

“We also look forward to fully exploring povetacicept’s potential as a ‘pipeline-in-a-product’ and adding Alpine’s protein engineering and immunotherapy capabilities to Vertex’s toolbox.”

The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024.

The deal comes as Alpine shared updated IgAN data from an open-label Phase 1b/2a RUBY study

According to results, in the six patients who had reached 36 weeks of treatment with the low dose (80 mg), Alpine reported a clinically meaningful 64.1% reduction in proteinuria, the protein level in the urine associated with kidney disease. 

This reduction was associated with stable renal function as assessed by estimated glomerular filtration rate, a measure of kidney function. 

All four patients for whom data were available at 36 weeks showed resolution of hematuria or blood in the urine.

At the high dose (240 mg), Alpine reported proteinuria and hematuria results at weeks 12 and 24, similar to results in the low-dose group. 

Both doses were well tolerated, and no infections were reported. 

Price Action: VRTX shares are down 0.49% at $395.62, and ALPN shares are up 36.2% at $64.08 during the premarket session on the last check Thursday.

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