Novartis Acquires AveXis, Gene Therapy Platform for $8.7 Billion

April 13, 2018: By Jon Swedien

Novartis has entered an agreement to acquire AveXis and its gene therapy platform for $8.7 billion.

AveXis’ lead drug candidate, AVXS-101, has the potential to be first-ever one-time gene replacement therapy for spinal muscular atrophy. Novartis believes the acquisition can also help it advance its gene therapy capabilities more generally.

“We have a robust internal portfolio of gene therapies in ophthalmology and neuroscience in Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research,” Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan told Reuters. “And we look forward to using AveXis’ capabilities and technical development capabilities to be able to advance that portfolio.”

The boards of both companies each unanimously approved the transaction. Novartis agreed to pay $218 per share. The deal is expected to close in mid-2018, Novartis said.

This is Novartis’ second deal for a gene therapy this year. In February, Novartis struck a licensing deal to develop and commercialize Spark Therapeutics’ gene therapy, voretigene neparvovec, outside the US. That deal is potentially worth more than $170 million, according to Spark. Voretigene neparvovec is an FDA-approved treatment for retinal dystrophies caused by mutations in the RPE65 gene.

Novartis had cash on hand after selling its stake in a consumer health care joint venture with GlaxoSmithKline for $13 billion in March.

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