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Vifor Pharma acquires US$50m share in Akebia

Vifor headquarters, © Vifor

Swiss Vifor Pharma has agreed to acquire shares of Cambridge-based distributor Adebia worth US$50m in order exclusivly distribute its hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) stabiliser vadadustat to 40% of US dialysis clinics.

Vifor Pharma said it will make a US$50m equity investment in Akebia at US$14 per share. Vadadustat is an oral hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) stabiliser currently in Phase III development for the treatment of anaemia associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Under the terms of the agreement, Vifor Pharma will exclusively distribute vadadustat to Fresenius Medical Care North America for use solely within its dialysis facilities in the US to meet their need for an HIF-based treatment for anaemia associated with CKD. Fresenius Medical Care is the largest kidney dialysis provider in the U.S. and, in 2016, treated over 185,000 dialysis patients, or nearly 40% of the U.S. dialysis patients.

The agreement is structured as a profit-sharing arrangement between Akebia and Vifor Pharma. It is subject to the approval of vadadustat by the FDA and to the inclusion of vadadustat in a bundled reimbursement model, upon which Akebia will receive a US$20m payment from Vifor Pharma. Akebia's revenue from the profit share and the milestone payment will be shared with Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., Akebia's US collaborator. Akebia, in collaboration with Otsuka, plans to commercialise vadadustat in other dialysis organizations and centers and in the non-dialysis market in the US

"This agreement provides the opportunity to build greater commercial momentum for vadadustat in the U.S. rapidly upon launch," said John P. Butler, President and Chief Executive Officer of Akebia.