Allergan Announces Agreement to Divest Zenpep, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency Treatment


Allergan has entered into a definite agreement to sell Zenpep (pancrelipase), a therapy for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency due to cystic fibrosis (CF) and other conditions.

The agreement was reached alongside the currently ongoing regulatory approval process for AbbVie’s acquisition of Allergan, and is contingent upon approval of the merger. Allergan also will divest brazikumab, an IL-23 inhibitor.

CF can affect the pancreas, leading to exocrine pancreatic insufficiency — a lack of pancreatic enzymes that help break down food during digestion. With that condition, CF patients can experience difficulties in properly digesting food, particularly fats and proteins.

Zenpep is a type of pancreatic enzyme formulation that is produced commercially as delayed-release capsules. It is available in the United States as a treatment for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. The therapy contains a mixture of digestive enzymes, and has been shown to increase the absorption of fats in CF patients with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Allergan will sell Zenpep to Nestlé, which will obtain and take full operational ownership of the medicine once the transaction has been completed. Nestlé will receive customary transition support from Allergan, and also will also Viokace — another pancreatic enzyme formulation — as part of the same transaction.

In turn, AstraZeneca will acquire brazikumab, an investigational IL-23 inhibitor currently in Phase 2b/3 development (NCT03759288) for Crohn’s disease, and in Phase 2 development (NCT03616821) for ulcerative colitis. AstraZeneca will obtain both global development and commercial rights for brazikumab.

“These definitive agreements represent significant progress toward the completion of our acquisition of Allergan,” Richard A. Gonzalez, chairman and CEO of AbbVie, said in a press release. “The new combined organization will be well positioned to deliver on our mission to patients with a broad portfolio of innovative therapies.”

The acquisitions of brazikumab and Zenpep are conditional upon approval by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the European Commission. It also is conditional upon AbbVie’s pending acquisition of Allergan, as well as the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

“Today, we move another step closer to completing AbbVie’s acquisition of Allergan,” said Brent Saunders, chairman and CEO of Allergan.

“Allergan’s commercial and R&D teams have invested so much of themselves into the development of brazikumab and the commercialization of Zenpep, and these divestiture agreements will enable that work to continue following the close of our planned acquisition,” he said.

AbbVie and Allergan expect the pending transaction to be closed in the first quarter of 2020.

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