Esperion Therapeutics, Inc, a bio-pharmaceutical company formed to focus on the discovery and development of compounds to treat cardiovascular and metabolic disease, has announced that it has been launched as a privately held, independent enterprise.
In December 2003, Pfizer Inc. acquired Esperion Therapeutics Inc., then a Michigan-based start up, for $1.3 billion in cash, as it had a promising drug that was at the time still under trials as an effective arterial clogging reversal medication. Under Pfizer, Esperion operated as a separate research division.
Pfizer has now sold Esperion Therapeutics, holding selected programs and related assets, to an entity funded by a syndicate of investors, though Pfizer retains a financial interest in the enterprise. Additional financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.
Aisling Capital is a leading private equity firm headquartered in New York with $1billion under management.
Alta Partners is a San Francisco-based venture capital firm focused on life sciences investing.
Arboretum Ventures is an early-stage venture capital firm specialising in the health care sector.
Domain Associates, LLC is a venture capital firm founded in 1985 with an exclusive focus on life sciences.
Co-led by Aisling Capital, Alta Partners and Domain Associates, the tranche financing for Esperion also included participation by Arboretum Ventures. This support will allow further development of the company's lead program for the treatment of dyslipidemias, as well as other potentially high density lipoprotein (HDL, or good cholesterol) related therapeutics.
Esperion Therapeutics will be led by Dr Roger Newton, the original co-founder, CEO and president of the company. Esperion will continue to leverage the scientific expertise and resources that reside in its Ann Arbor, Michigan based headquarters. As part of the spin out from Pfizer, Esperion will retain a small molecule dual inhibitor of fatty acid and cholesterol synthesis, for the treatment of dyslipidemias.
''We are extremely pleased to be working with such a strong group of investors as Esperion Therapeutics continues our important work in treating cardiovascular and metabolic disease,'' stated CEO Dr Roger Newton.
''Re-establishing Esperion as a privately held entity ensures that the programs we have obtained will continue to advance as potentially important therapeutics. Without Pfizer's support, we would not have this opportunity to focus on these potential opportunities.''
''Pfizer's contribution to the formation of the new Esperion shows the company is embracing new strategies to refocus its R&D and create value from exited compounds,'' said Martin Mackay, president of Pfizer's global research and development.
''This transaction also enables Esperion to pursue its interests as a Michigan-based life science company while allowing Pfizer to support a new research venture and be involved in Esperion's potential success.''
Esperion's Dr Newton has 27 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries. Most recently, he was the senior vice president of Pfizer global research and development and director of Esperion Therapeutics, a Pfizer Inc subsidiary.
Prior to co-founding Esperion, Dr Newton was an executive at Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis (now Pfizer) from 1981-1998. As chairman of the Atherosclerosis Drug Discovery Team, he co-discovered and was product champion of atorvastatin (Lipitor).
''We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Dr Newton and his outstanding team of scientists,'' said Alison de Bord, director at Alta Partners. ''We believe that Esperion will establish itself as a leading player in the development of HDL therapies.''
Alison de Bord of Alta Partners, Dov Goldstein of Aisling Capital, and Nicole Vitullo of Domain Associates have joined Esperion's board of directors in conjunction with the financing.