Irish drugmaker Shire to buy Lumena Pharma to shore up rare diseases portfolio

Irish drugmaker Shire Plc today struck a deal to buy Lumena Pharmaceuticals, a US-based biopharmaceutical company with late stage rare disease pipeline assets, for at least $260 million.

Dublin-based Shire will pay $260 million in cash, plus a payment for net cash at closing, as well as near-term contingent milestone payments related to Lumena's ongoing clinical trials.

Lumena, based in San Diego,will bring to Shire two new oral therapeutic compounds; LUM001, in Phase 2 with four potential orphan indications and LUM002, ready to enter Phase 2 later in 2014.

LUM001 and LUM002 are both inhibitors of the apical sodium-dependent bile acid transporter (ASBT), which is primarily responsible for recycling bile acids from the intestine to the liver. 

Blocking bile acid transport with ASBT inhibitors reduces bile acid absorption and has the potential to improve liver function and relieve disease symptoms such as extreme itching associated with cholestatic liver diseases, and may slow disease progression.

The acquisition will strengthen Shire's already robust pipeline and complements its strategic focus on rare diseases and provides a future growth path for Shire's gastrointestinal business, which generated revenues of over $800 million in 2013. 

In acquiring Lumena, Shire is gaining experience in liver disease and will complementt with Shire's recent acquisition of Fibrotech, which has pipeline programs to address unmet patient need in other fibrotic conditions including renal impairment.

''Our pipeline and strategic focus on rare diseases is even further strengthened with the acquisition of Lumena Pharmaceuticals, which also complements our strong GI presence. These attractive potential treatments may offer new hope to patients with rare cholestatic liver disease and further contribute to Shire's future growth,'' said Flemming Ornskov, CEO of Shire.