Shire bags an early-stage fibrosis drug in $75M Fibrotech buyout

Even as reports of a prospective takeover bid from Allergan ($AGN) circulate, Shire CEO Flemming Ornskov shows no sign of slowing down on the company's deal spree. The biotech is buying Australia's Fibrotech for $75 million upfront and a string of undisclosed milestones, bringing in a lead drug for fibrosis.

The main object of Shire's ($SHPG) desire is FT011, now in a Phase Ib study in patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy. If Shire is successful, the company plans to launch a midstage study of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis, a rare disease that disrupts the kidney's filtering system and triggers fibrosis. Shire is also getting a library of molecules that includes a preclinical candidate for fibrosis as well.

Fibrotech is the latest in a string of acquisitions engineered by Ornskov. He paid $4.2 billion for ViroPharma, snagging the rare disease drug Cinryze in the deal. He's also bought out several other biotechs, adding new eye drugs to the pipeline, include one that recently failed a late-stage study.

Shire touted growing sales in its Q1 report today, as Ornskov steered clear of any discussion about Allergan's reported interest in buying out the company as Valeant ($VRX), in turn, pursues the Botox maker. Just today analysts at Societe Generale suggested that AstraZeneca should buy Shire to ward off the $100 billion Pfizer bid, the latest in a long lineup of reports offering up new scenarios for Shire's future.

Melbourne-based Fibrotech is a good fit for Shire, says R&D chief Phil Vickers.

"The acquisition of Fibrotech is a strategic step in expanding Shire's pipeline with a novel, clinical stage anti-fibrotic agent that strengthens our growing and innovative portfolio targeting renal and fibrotic diseases," Vickers said in a statement. "There have been significant advances in the scientific understanding of fibrosis and the use of biomarkers to support clinical development--which makes now a good time to invest in these promising assets targeting a novel mechanism of action."

- here's the release