Shire to buy FerroKin for $100m

A strategic step for the pharmaceutical company's hematology business.

FerroKin's work includes research into the treatment of transfusion-related ailments. Credit: Getty Images

The Irish biopharmaceutical company Shire has signed an agreement to acquire the US-based FerroKin BioSciences for $100m, payable in cash at closing, plus potential post-closing milestone payments of up to $225m (depending on the achievement of clinical development, regulatory and net sales targets).

The acquisition also includes FBS0701, a once-daily oral iron chelator, which is being developed for the treatment of iron overload resulting from chronic blood transfusions in adults and children.

Ross Murdoch, senior vice-president of hematology for speciality pharmaceuticals at Shire, said: “There remains a significant unmet need for a once-a-day, oral iron chelator in a convenient dosage form for the treatment of transfusional iron overload with a better safety profile than currently available treatments. We believe FBS0701 has the potential to meet that need.

“We hope to use our expertise in hematology, coupled with our proven ability to progress products through the development pipeline to bring FBS0701 to the global marketplace. This acquisition marks an important step for Shire in building a business that serves the growing needs of specialty hematologists and their patients.”

Key employees of FerroKin including its founder and CEO, Hugh Rienhoff, Jr, will provide consulting services to Shire during the transition period.

Rienhoff said: “An important factor for FerroKin BioSciences in agreeing to this transaction was Shire's drive, capability and vision to bring new products to the hematology market that promise to raise the standard of care for patients.  In Shire's hands, FBS0701 has greater potential to fulfil that promise.”

At present, phase 2 studies of FBS0701 are being conducted; additional trials are planned. The oral iron chelator is expected to be launched as early as in 2016.

The closing of the acquisition is subject to customary conditions. Seaview Securities acted as financial adviser to FerroKin.

Meanwhile, Shire has withdrawn its biologics license application with the US Food and Drug Administration for REPLAGAL (agalsidase alfa).