UPDATED: Alexion scoops up rare disease drug in $1.08B Enobia buyout

Alexion Pharmaceuticals ($ALXN) didn't let last week's holiday break slow down its game plan for beefing up its pipeline. The developer announced a $1.08 billion deal to buy Enobia. The Canadian biotech is being snapped up for $610 million in cash and $470 million in regulatory and sales milestones.

The prize program in the Enobia buyout is focused on ENB-0040 (asfotase alfa) for hypophosphatasia, a rare metabolic condition characterized by skeletal deformation and organ damage. The enzyme replacement therapy recently wrapped a mid-stage study with positive data, giving Cheshire, CT-based Alexion a new late-stage rare disease development program following the widespread approval of Soliris (eculizumab).

The billion-dollar deal underscores the growing importance of rare disease drugs, which have found a lucrative niche in the global drug market. And the buyout is likely to spark a fresh round of speculation about a possible M&A deal for Alexion, which drew nods from several analysts for its latest deal.

"The acquisition of Enobia gives Alexion a solid late-stage asset that, to some degree, diversifies the concentration on Soliris," J.P. Morgan analyst Geoff Meacham said in a client note.

"Enobia and our scientific collaborators have developed an elegant compound showing very promising clinical results to date," said Enobia CEO Robert Heft. "Together with Alexion, we share a sharp focus on transforming the lives of patients with severe and ultra-rare disorders. The hypophosphatasia patient community will be well served by the experience and international scope of Alexion."

- here's the press release
- read the story from Bloomberg