Allergan to acquire Espirit; Alnylam and Merck to split up


IRVINE, Calif. Allergan and Espirit Pharma have entered into an agreement in which Allergan will acquire Espirit for about $370 million in cash. Also, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals and Merck have agreed to end their collaboration into RNAi, a process that uses genetic material to directly turn off genes.

Under the agreement, Allergan will acquire the rights to Espirit’s drugs Sanctura and the newly approved Sanctura XR. Sanctura is a twice a day anticholinergic for the treatment of overactive bladder. The XR is one a day formulation of the original.

“The acquisition of Esprit reflects our commitment to build portfolios of products with differentiated profiles in core specialty markets where there is a high unmet need and significant growth potential. With Sanctura XR, which has been shown to be effective while significantly reducing typical side effects such as dry mouth associated with many overactive bladder medications, we are building a treatment portfolio that addresses the continuum of care for overactive bladder and other genitourinary disorders,” said David E.I. Pyott, Allergan’s chairman of the board and chief executive officer.

Alnylam and Merck have been in collaboration since 2003, but then last year Merck bought Alnylam’s rival Sirna Therapeutics opening up a problem with the original partnership. Alynlam thought it was strange to help Merck and thereby help their direct competition as well.

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