AstraZeneca is slated to acquire Princeton, NJ-based Omthera Pharmaceuticals in a deal worth up to $443 million, the firm today said.

The pharma giant is paying $12.70 per share for the specialty pharmaceutical firm, which has completed pharmacokinetic and Phase III clinical studies to investigate the safety and efficacy of Epanova™, its investigational product for the treatment of very high triglycerides. Beyond the cash payment, Omthera shareholders are entitled to contingent value rights of up to $4.70 per share if specified milestones related to Epanova are met, or a milestone related to global net sales is achieved, AstraZeneca said.

Omthera last year reported positive results from two Phase III trials evaluating the efficacy of Epanova in lowering very high triglycerides and in reducing non-HDL cholesterol in combination with a statin. The firm is expected to file a U.S. new drug application (NDA) for the treatment of severe hypertriglyceridemia mid-year. AstraZeneca said it intends to file a supplemental NDA as soon as possible for the same drug for the treatment of mixed dyslipidemia, as well as in a fixed-dose combination with its Crestor® (rosuvastatin calcium) for those mixed dyslipidemia patients at high risk of a cardiovascular event.

In a statement, AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said: “Epanova offers real potential both as a distinctive monotherapy for the treatment of hypertriglyceridemia and in combination with Crestor for patients at high risk of adverse cardiovascular events. This is an exciting acquisition that clearly complements our existing portfolio in cardiovascular and metabolic disease, one of our core therapy areas.”

Omthera CEO Gerald L. Wisler added: “We believe strongly that AstraZeneca can maximize the value of Epanova not only as a monotherapy treatment for dyslipidemia but also as a treatment for cardiovascular disease in combination with Crestor.”

The transaction, which is subject to shareholder approval, is expected to close during the third quarter of this year. AstraZeneca added that Omthera shareholders representing around 60% of current total outstanding shares have entered into a voting agreement in favor of the transaction.

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