GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is set to acquire Bellus Health, a Canadian drug developer, for $2 billion in cash as part of its expansion of respiratory therapies.
The acquisition includes Bellus’ experimental drug, camlipixant, which is in late-stage development as a treatment for refractory chronic cough, a condition that currently has no approved therapies.
The deal is expected to expand GSK’s existing respiratory portfolio, which includes Nucala and Trelegy, and help replenish its pipeline as investors worry about the expected loss of patent protection for one of its key compounds. GSK’s offer of $14.75 per share is more than double Bellus’ closing price on the Nasdaq.
Camlipixant is up against Merck’s rival drug, gefapixant, for RCC patients, but some analysts suggest that camlipixant could emerge as the preferred option with a superior safety profile.
The acquisition is part of GSK’s efforts to offset the expected loss of sales from dolutegravir, a compound that forms part of four of its HIV treatments, due to patent expiration in 2027.
GSK is also leaning on the prospects of its own vaccine targeted at the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) to offset the loss and has announced a string of deals, including the buyout of Affinivax and Sierra Oncology, to plug the gap.