Allergan spends $90M to get its hands on a topical Botox project

Allergan ($AGN) is spending $90 million on a company at work on a topical version of its top-selling Botox, padding its pipeline of dermatology treatments as it moves toward a megamerger with Pfizer ($PFE).

Under a buyout agreement, Allergan is trading $90 million up front and promising undisclosed future cash for Anterios, a New York City biotech at work on technology that could allow neurotoxins to be delivered through the skin without the need for needles. Anterios' lead program, ANT-1207, is a topical formulation of the botulinum toxin key to Allergan's Botox. The company has completed a pair of Phase II studies in acne and crow's feet lines and is now working through a third in excessive sweating, according to ClinicalTrials.gov.

Last year, Anterios filed to raise up to $63 million in an IPO, seeking cash to close out ANT-1207's midstage development and fund a Phase III trial in excessive sweating. The company's Wall Street ambitions never came to fruition, but management said aligning with Allergan gives its lead candidate the best shot at making it to market. Before signing the buyout deal, Anterios spun out its other assets, including an injectable botulinum, into a new firm called Eirion Therapeutics.

For Allergan, the deal creates an opportunity to extend the runway for Botox, which brought in $1.3 billion in the first 9 months of 2015. The injection is already approved for excessive sweating among 7 other therapeutic indications, and the prospect of a topical formulation could open up new avenues in medicine and aesthetics, the company said.

Meanwhile, Allergan and Pfizer have signed an agreement to join forces in a deal worth about $160 billion, hoping to close the merger in the middle of this year. Under the terms of the deal, the Irish-domiciled Allergan will absorb Pfizer and then be renamed in its stead, a move designed to get around U.S. Treasury regulations that seek to discourage American companies from buying overseas rivals for a lower tax bill.

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