Eagle Pharmaceuticals said today it plans to acquire Arsia Therapeutics for up to $78 million, in a deal that will expand the buyer’s formulation and development expertise into biosimilars.

Based in Cambridge, MA, Arsia creates subcutaneous versions of currently marketed intravenous products and produces high-concentration formulations of clinical candidates. Arsia was founded by MIT professors Robert Langer, Sc.D., and Alexander Klibanov, Ph.D., along with Polaris Partners, to improve the delivery of highly viscous protein therapeutics through its platform technology, designed to enable subcutaneous administration of high-dose biologics through improved formulation.

Drs. Langer and Klibanov and other “key” Arsia executives have entered into agreements, effective with the closing of the acquisition, to work with Eagle in developing new formulations and solving challenges to delivering large molecules.

Arsia has applied its technology to the biosimilar molecules of biopharma giants through early-stage collaborations. One such collaboration, disclosed by Arsia in December 201, is an up-to-$100 million-plus partnership with Biogen, focused on providing improved treatment administration for hemophilia patients by enabling subcutaneous versions of treatments now administered intravenously.

“Arsia will significantly enhance Eagle’s formulation capabilities and greatly expand our product development opportunities,” Eagle President and CEO Scott Tarriff said in a statement. “While large pharmaceutical companies around the world invest heavily in biosimilars, Eagle’s and Arsia’s combined know-how and execution capabilities will allow us to improve upon those formulations to create ‘biobetters’, which we believe will be key to product differentiation, pricing power and larger market share.”

Tarriff added that the combined company plans to partner with “key” biosimilar companies to help alter their existing pipelines into biobetter: “This is a natural extension of Eagle’s business model, applied to the biologics space.”

Headquartered in Woodcliff Lake, NJ, Eagle focuses on developing and commercializing injectable products using its proprietary viscosity-reducing technology and formulation know-how.

Eagle agreed to pay approximately $30 million at closing for Arsia, of which $27.3 million will be paid in cash and the other $2.7 million, Eagle common stock, as well as up to $48 million in additional payments tied to achieving milestones.

Eagle said the acquisition is expected to close within the next week, subject to customary closing conditions.

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