Shire claims Movetis’ marketed and pipeline drugs will complement existing GI portfolio.

Shire has made a €428 million (about $549 million) cash bid for Belgian gastrointestinal (GI) disorder therapeutics firm Movetis in order to acquire the firm’s marketed constipation drug Resolor® and clinical pipeline of GI therapeutic candidates. The Movetis board has recommended its shareholders accept the offer. At €19 (about $24.5) per share, Shire’s bid represents a premium of 74% on the price of Movetis’ stock yesterday, and 107% on its share price over the last month. One of the stipulations of the offer is that Movetis doesn’t sign any deals for Resolor in Europe. If the deal goes ahead Shire will have essentially paid €328 million ($420 million) for Movetis, as the latter had about €100 million ($128 million) in cash as of the end of March.

Shire maintains Resolor and the Movetis development pipeline will nestle in nicely with its own marketed products and GI pipeline, which is headed by the marketed mesalamine-based ulcerative colitis drugs Pentasa and Lialda/Mezavant. The latter is also currently in global Phase III studies for diverticulitis, an indication that Shire claims has twice the patient population potential of ulcerative colitis.

Lialda/Mezavant made worldwide sales of $63.6 million in the three months to March 31, 2010, up 29% on the same quarter during 2008. Pentasa’s sales of the 2009 quarter, at $58.2 million, were up 14%. Sales of the two drugs were responsible for 15% of Shire’s overall revenues in the first three months of 2010. Shire estimates Movetis’ Resolor could have potential peak sales of some €300 million ($385 million).

“This proposed acquisition of Movetis provides a highly complementary fit for our GI business unit and supports our strategy of expanding our specialty product portfolio into international markets,” remarks Mike Cola, president of Shire’s specialty pharmaceuticals business. “The acquisition of Movetis will provide immediate revenue from a newly launched product that has strong patent protection, as well as a promising GI pipeline.”

Movetis’ lead product, Resolor, is a selective high-affinity serotonin (5-HT4) receptor agonist with enterokinetic activity. The drug was approved in October 2009 throughout the 27 EU nations and in Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway, for the symptomatic treatment of chronic constipation in women who fail to derive adquate relief from laxatives. Resolor has already been launched in Germany and the U.K., and Movetis is preparing for roll-out across other approved territories.

The firm says estimates suggest that in 2008 the world laxative market was valued at over $3 billion, with women suffering from chronic constipation representing a sizable proportion of the overall patient population.

Movetis is focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of drugs for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases with high unmet need. The firm’s pipeline includes two Phase II candidates. M0002 is a selective vasopressin V2 receptor antagonist in develoment for the treatment of ascites. M0003 is a selective 5-HT4 agonist entering Phase II development for the symptomatic treatment of heartburn and regurgitation in patients who are refractory to proton pump inhibitors ,and pediatric reflux. M0004, a backup to M0003, is in Phase I development. Movetis’ preclinical pipeline includes a 5-HT3 receptor agonist targeting c-IBS and a 5-HT4 receptor antagonist targeting inflammation in GI diseases including certain subtypes of IBS.

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