Company acquires five companies in six weeks across three disease areas

Allergan has agreed to buy five companies focused on three distinct research areas: gastroenterology, eye disease and dermatology. The acquisition spree is part of Allergan’s move away from generics and towards treatments for diseases with unmet patient need.

Biopharmaceutical companies Akarna Therapeutics and Tobira Therapeutics bring in preclinical and Phase 2 clinical candidates for treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Allergan will pay Akarna $50 million (£45 million) up front, plus performance-related milestone payments. For Tobira, Allergan will pay approximately $533 million in cash, plus milestone payments up to a total of $1.7 billion.

In eyecare, Allergan has committed $60 million up front, plus milestone payments, for Retrosense. That brings an early clinical-stage gene therapy for retinitis pigmentosa, an inherited disease that causes degeneration of the photoreceptor cells in the eye and severe visual impairment. ForSight Vision5, bought for $95 million in cash plus milestone payments, will give Allergan access to a long-term eye drug delivery system. A small ring placed under the eyelids, which is currently undergoing Phase 2 clinical studies and is designed to replace eye drops, will allow treatment of glaucoma and ocular hypertension.

Acquisition of biotechnology firm Vitae Pharmaceuticals for approximately $640 million will boost Allergan’s dermatology research. Vitae is developing a treatment – currently in Phase 2 clinical trials – for psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder characterised by patches of inflamed skin.