News Feature | August 26, 2014

Roche To Acquire InterMune, Promising IPF Drug

By Estel Grace Masangkay

Roche announced that it is acquiring Brisbane-based biotech firm InterMune for $8.3 billion.

Under the terms of the agreement, Roche will acquire InterMune at $74 per share on a fully diluted basis. Roche will submit a tender offer no later than August 29 which InterMune will unanimously recommend to its shareholders. The transaction will allow Roche to gain InterMune’s lead drug pirfenidone, an approved drug for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in Canada and the EU. Pirfernidone is still under regulatory review in the U.S., and has been designated a Breakthrough Therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The drug is expected to launch this year.

Dan Welch, InterMune’s Chairman, CEO and President, said, “Roche shares our passion and commitment to the IPF community and to ensuring that pirfenidone is available as quickly as possible to patients in the United States, pending FDA approval. Roche’s global resources and scale will not only facilitate and accelerate our ability to deliver pirfenidone to more patients around the world, but also to realize our joint vision to bring additional innovative therapies to patients with respiratory diseases.”

Severin Schwan, CEO of Roche, said, “We are very pleased that we reached this agreement with InterMune… We look forward to welcoming InterMune employees into the Roche Group and to making a difference for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a devastating disease.” This acquisition of pirfenidone will build up Roche’s own portfolio of respiratory drugs. Roche already markets Pulmozyme and Xolair in the U.S. and has another compound called labrikizumab in development for respiratory diseases — currently one of the largest and most lucrative drug markets. Indeed, the market for drugs that treat respiratory illnesses like Asthma is estimated to generate about $33 billion in worldwide sales. Despite the fact the drug has yet to be approved in the U.S., analysts are expecting that InterMune’s drug, known as Esbriet, could rake in more than $1 billion per year in global sales, the Wall Street Journal reports.  

This acquisition follows shortly after Roche announced an agreement in July to acquire Seragon Pharmaceuticals and its portfolio of next-generation oral selective estrogen receptor degraders (SERDs) candidates, under development for the treatment of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Roche Group member Genentech will accomplish the acquisition of Seragon.