Billion dollar drug deal

GlaxoSmithKline is to acquire New Jersey-based Reliant Pharmaceuticals for $1.65bn in cash.

GlaxoSmithKline is to acquire Reliant Pharmaceuticals for $1.65bn (£800m) in cash.

Reliant, a privately held specialty pharmaceutical company focused on cardiovascular therapies, recorded net sales of $341m in the nine months ending 30 September 2007, an increase of 62 per cent over the year before.

Through its strategic in-licensing and development strategy, Reliant has developed a portfolio of specialty medicines combating heart disease, including US rights to Lovaza (omega-3-acid ethyl esters), a treatment for adult patients with very high levels of triglycerides. Triglycerides are fatty substances in the blood associated with increased risks of coronary artery disease.

Launched in late 2005, Lovaza (formerly known as Omacor) achieved rapid uptake among patients and healthcare professionals. In the nine months ending 30 September 2007, net sales were $206m, an increase of 115 per cent over the first nine months of 2006.

Reliant licensed the rights to Lovaza in the US and Puerto Rico from Pronova BioPharma, a publicly traded Norwegian company that will continue to supply the product’s primary material. Rights to Lovaza in other markets have been licensed by Pronova to several other companies.

In addition to Lovaza, Reliant Pharmaceuticals, based in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, currently markets three other in-licensed cardiovascular products – high blood pressure treatments DynaCirc CR (isradipine) and InnoPran XL (propanolol HCl), as well as Rythmol SR (propafenone), which treats abnormal heart rhythms, or arrhythmia.

The acquisition is subject to approval by the US Federal Trade Commission and is expected to be concluded before the end of the year.