After ZS Pharma buyout, Relypsa slated to be next on the hit list

John Orwin, CEO Relypsa

As hype around new treatments for the blood disorder hyperkalemia continues unabated after AstraZeneca's $2.7 billion buyout of ZS Pharma last year, Relypsa ($RLYP), which recently won approval for its drug for the condition, is now on the verge of being bought out.

This is according to Reuters, quoting people "familiar with the matter" who wish to remain anonymous, as saying the Redwood City, CA-based biotech is working with investment bank Centerview Partners Holdings to review offers.

"The discussions are in their early stages and may not lead to a sale," the people told the news wire, asking not to be identified because the talks are private.

AstraZeneca ($AZN) agreed to buy ZS Pharma ($ZSPH) and its lead candidate ZS-9, a late-stage treatment for hyperkalemia, back in 2015.

Hyperkalemia is a disease in which dangerously high potassium levels threaten kidney and heart function. AstraZeneca said global peak sales for ZS-9 could exceed $1 billion a year, with the hyperkalemia treatment market estimated to worth more than $6 billion by some analysts.

Several of the companies that unsuccessfully bid for ZS Pharma--which included Actelion--have reached out to Relypsa, the people said, as they look to tap into this potential new market.

Relypsa's hyperkalemia drug patirome Veltassa won FDA approval in late 2015, although it came with a black-box warning of interactions with oral meds. This may change however as earlier this year the company asked the FDA for an updated label after new trials showed it didn't interact with other treatments as much as first thought.

ZS-9 is currently awaiting a final FDA decision for its treatment, which is expected later this year. A PDUFA goal date for the decision has been set for May 26.

Relypsa saw its shares jump by nearly 68% yesterday, although they fell back slightly this morning.

The company is not commenting on the story.

- check out Reuters story