By Tamara Mathias
(Reuters) – Emergent BioSolutions Inc said on Tuesday it would buy privately held Adapt Pharma, beefing up its portfolio with Narcan, the only FDA approved needle-free emergency opioid overdose treatment.
Addiction to opioids – mainly prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl – has emerged as a serious public health crisis in the United States, especially in rural areas.
According to the U.S. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, the epidemic https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htmclaimed over 70,000 lives last year.
President Donald Trump in March recommended death penalty for drug dealers after declaring the addiction crisis a public health emergency in October.
Trump also introduced an Adapt Pharma executive, Mike Kelly, during an event in New Hampshire and said he wanted to give first responders access to life-saving drugs that can reverse overdoses.
Emergent’s shares were up marginally in after-hours trading on Tuesday, while those of Opiant Pharmaceuticals, Adapt’s commercial partner, jumped nearly 42 percent.
Emergent said it had “no plans to change” Narcan’s pricing and would maintain the 40 percent discount available to state and local governments and non-profit organizations.
“Adapt has put together a strong, durable supply chain of partners to support the manufacture of the product. We do not intend to disrupt that,” an Emergent executive said on a conference call with analysts.
Narcan, often carried by police officers and medical teams, contains the chemical naloxone hydrochloride and was approved as a nasal spray in 2015. The U.S. Surgeon General released a public health advisory earlier this year urging more Americans to carry naloxone.
Tuesday’s deal comprises an upfront cash-and-stock payment of $635 million and up to $100 million in cash linked to sales-based milestones through 2022, Emergent said.
The company will also gain access to Adapt’s pipeline of treatments to address opioid overdose, as well as about 50 employees in the United States, Canada and Ireland.
The deal fits in with Emergent’s strategy of focusing on treatments for public health threats and the company is currently developing a vaccine for bat-borne Nipah virus.
Acquisitions will remain a priority in the growth approach, the company said.
Emergent is looking to achieve or exceed its $1 billion in revenue goal in 2020 and as part of the plan recently acquired specialty vaccines company PaxVax.
(Reporting by Tamara Mathias in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)