AbbVie pads neuroscience portfolio with $8.7B deal to acquire Cerevel

AbbVie will delve deeper into neuroscience and psychiatric disease with the $8.7 billion acquisition of Cerevel Therapeutics.

Even with a deep portfolio of neuroscience assets already in the pipeline, the outlay will still give AbbVie access to something it doesn’t currently have: a treatment for schizophrenia that is in phase 2 testing. AbbVie has assets in migraine, movement disorders and psychiatric disorders, specifically generalized anxiety disorder and adjunctive major depressive disorder.

CEO Richard Gonzalez said Cerevel will provide a significant growth opportunity into the next decade, according to an after-market release Wednesday.

"AbbVie will leverage its deep commercial capabilities, international infrastructure and regulatory and clinical expertise to deliver substantial shareholder value with multibillion-dollar sales potential across Cerevel's portfolio of assets,” Gonzalez said.

The stars of Cerevel’s pipeline include emraclidine, which is being tested in schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease psychosis. The muscarinic M4 selective positive allosteric modulator is in the same class as Karuna Therapeutics’ KarXT, which was just granted an FDA decision date of September 26, 2024.

Emraclidine cleared a key safety test in schizophrenia a year ago, which analysts said was an important de-risking event. The therapy is also being tested in healthy elderly volunteers for dementia-related psychosis in Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson’s disease.

Another major pipeline asset that may have caught AbbVie’s eye is tavapadon, a dopamine D1/D5 selective partial agonist for Parkinson’s that is in late-stage testing. Cerevel has positioned the med for both monotherapy and adjunctive treatment. Tavapadon could find use in early Parkinson’s, while AbbVie’s existing portfolio could serve more advanced symptomatic disease, according to the release.

"Cerevel has always been committed to transforming what is possible in neuroscience. With AbbVie's long-standing expertise in developing and commercializing medicines on a global scale, Cerevel's novel therapies will be well positioned to reach more people living with neuroscience diseases," said CEO Ron Renaud, who took up the top role at Cerevel in May.

AbbVie is acquiring all outstanding shares of Cerevel for $45 apiece in cash.