Shire snaps up dry eye drugs firm SARcode

City A.M. Reporter
SHIRE is to buy privately owned US biotech firm SARcode Bioscience, paying $160m (£105.4m) upfront to win rights to a new drug in late-stage development for dry eye diseases.

The move is Shire’s second acquisition this month of a small company in the ophthalmology space – a hot area for pharmaceutical research – following the purchase of Sweden's Premacure two weeks ago.

Britain’s third biggest drugmaker has a long history of snapping up smaller biotech companies to build its speciality drugs business and its new CEO said the latest deals showed that the strategy was set to continue.

Flemming Ornskov will take over from Angus Russell as chief executive on 30 April.

Ornskov said Shire could do further deals in ophthalmology, both in back-of-the-eye and front-of-the-eye diseases.

“With us having now made two acquisitions, I think we are sending a strong signal both to the external world and to the internal world that we certainly will be looking at further opportunities in ophthalmology, if it is in areas of ophthalmology that we perceive to have high growth opportunities, significant unmet need and where innovation is the key driver for differentiation,” he said.

Shire said yesterday it aimed to launch SARcode’s new eye drug Lifitegrast in the United States as early as 2016, if clinical trials go well.

Barclays acted as financial advisor to Shire, while JP Morgan advised SARcode.