Allergan defuses Botox threat with $195M Bonti buy

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Bonti’s EB-001 works similarly to Botox, but it acts more quickly and its effects don’t last as long. (Allergan)

Allergan has agreed to pay $195 million to acquire Bonti, a startup founded by former Allergan executives focused on creating a new botulinum neurotoxin. The Big Pharma will pick up global rights to Bonti’s botulinum assets that are in development for cosmetic and therapeutic applications.

California-based Bonti raised a $15.5 million series C in January to push its botulinum neurotoxin serotype E (BoNT/E) candidate EB-001 through the end of an ongoing phase 2 trial and start a second phase 2 study. The funds were also earmarked for market research efforts. EB-001 is being developed in two programs: EB-001A for “facial aesthetic” applications and scar reduction following surgery for skin cancer, and EB-001T for focal muscle pain.

Allergan’s Botox—a different serotype of botulinum neurotoxin—is used cosmetically too, but it is also marketed for the treatment of overactive bladder and chronic migraine, among other conditions. Bonti’s EB-001 works similarly to Botox, but it acts more quickly and its effects don’t last as long. EB-001 acts within 24 hours and its effects last about three to four weeks, compared to onset of action between three and seven days and a duration of effect of about three to four months. These properties may make EB-001 “well-suited” for applications such as the treatment of postsurgical and nonsurgical musculoskeletal pain, Bonti said at the series C close.

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Bonti is looking forward to leveraging Allergan’s expertise in the space: "We're excited about the development and commercial prospects for our novel programs within Allergan's leading Medical Aesthetics portfolio," said Bonti CEO Fauad Hasan, in a statement. Hasan served as strategic and technical lead for neurotoxin programs at Allergan. "The promise of benefitting more consumers worldwide with our novel neurotoxin programs plus Allergan's stature and resources in this market will help realize our team's and investors' aims.”

As for Allergan, it’s taking out a potential rival and diversifying its neurotoxin offerings in the process.

"The acquisition of Bonti is a strategic investment for the future of our Medical Aesthetics business and has the potential to enhance our best-in-class Medical Aesthetics pipeline," said Allergan CEO Brent Saunders. "With the Medical Aesthetics market vastly expanding, a fast-acting neurotoxin with a 2- to 4-week duration will be an attractive option for consumers, particularly those who are considering a Medical Aesthetics treatment for the first time."