Sweet Harmony: Neuro biotech buys Epygenix and its epilepsy meds for $35M upfront

Harmony Biosciences is adding a suite of epilepsy assets to its pipeline, buying Epygenix for $35 million upfront with more than $600 million in biobucks on the table.

The relatively small M&A deal announced Tuesday has large potential, with the purchase adding a third late-stage candidate to Harmony’s pipeline. Front and center is EPX-100, currently in a phase 3 study to treat Dravet syndrome in both adults and children. Epygenix is about to launch a second phase 3 study in children with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a rare epilepsy condition. 

“The acquisition of Epygenix gives us three distinct CNS franchises in late-stage development, each with a potential US peak sales opportunity of $1B - $2B," said Harmony President and CEO Jeffrey Dayno, M.D. 

Analysts at Mizuho, commenting on both the deal and the company’s broader progress, could hardly contain their excitement—at least in investor speak.

“We come away very pleased with [Harmony’s] updates this morning,” they wrote.

The company’s shares were up 13% shortly after the markets opened Tuesday, from $29.25 to $33.04, indicative of wider investor positivity beyond just Mizuho’s enthusiastic note.

It’s Harmony’s second BD play in less than a month after the biotech scooped up an orexin-2 inhibitor from Bioproject to test as a narcolepsy treatment in early April. Takeda and Jazz Pharmaceuticals have each tried to tackle the target, though side effects have made the road a bit rockier. Harmony paid Bioproject $25.5 million to take hold of TPM-1116, with nearly $370 million in milestone payments up for grabs. 

That purchase added depth to Harmony’s blossoming sleep disorder franchise, led by approved narcolepsy med Wakix. The drug raked in $154.6 million in revenue in the first quarter, a 30% increase from the same period a year ago.

Harmony is looking to pad the stats through additional indications, with plans to submit a supplemental new drug application to the FDA in the second half of the year for Wakix to treat idiopathic hypersomnia, a condition marked by excessive sleepiness. The biotech is also working on a new formulation of the drug with a PDUFA date expected in 2026.