Ipsen and Inspiration join hands in $259M pact

France's Ipsen SA has mapped out a deal to acquire a chunk of Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals for $85 million and pay up to $174 million in milestones as they collaborate on the development of a blockbuster portfolio of new hemophilia drugs.

The first leg of the deal gives Ipsen a 20 percent stake in Laguna Niguel, CA-based Inspiration in exchange for the upfront money. Ipsen has an option to boost that equity stake to 47 percent as it pays up to $174 million in milestones. And Ipsen has a further option to take full control.

Analysts were quick to note that the pact looks a lot like the deal Ipsen signed with Tercica about four years ago that the French biotech used to leapfrog into the U.S. market for endocrinology.

"Short-term it allows Ipsen to cut research and development costs while keeping a hand in their main product OBI-1," Societe Generale analyst Rodolphe Besserve tells Reuters. "Long-term, however, it could be dilutive for margins, as it has been the case with Tercica, if the company decides to eventually buy Inspiration."

Under the agreement, Ipsen licenses its OBI-1 hemophilia therapy to Inspiration for $50 million in convertible notes and a 27.5 percent royalty on future OBI-1 sales. And the developers will push ahead with a planned late-stage trial on OBI-1 and Inspiration's IB1001 later this year.

"We believe Inspiration's portfolio, including OBI-1, could exceed sales of $1 billion in the next 10 years," says Ipsen CEO Jean-Luc Bélingard. "After entering the US market last year, we remain committed to growing Ipsen's specialist disease areas on a global basis."

- here's the press release
- check out the Reuters story