US-based biopharmaceutical firm Akebia Therapeutics has signed a definitive agreement to merge with Keryx Biopharmaceuticals to form a fully integrated company that will primarily develop and commercialise chronic kidney disease (CKD) treatments.

The combined company, which will be called Akebia Therapeutics, is estimated to have an equity value of about $1.3bn.

As per the terms of the agreement, Akebia will hold 49.4% in the newly created entity, while Keryx will own the remaining 50.6% of shares.

Akebia and Keryx expect the merger to deliver potential operating and product portfolio synergies, along with opportunities for growth.

Akebia Therapeutics president and CEO John Butler said: “The combined company will have an expanded and highly complementary nephrology portfolio, with Auryxia, a product with significant growth opportunity, and vadadustat, an investigational late-stage HIF-PHI that has the potential to provide a new oral standard of care to patients with anaemia due to CKD.

“Combining Akebia and Keryx creates a leading renal company with the infrastructure to maximise the market potential of drugs.”

“Combining Akebia and Keryx creates a leading renal company and provides it with the infrastructure to maximise the market potential of Auryxia and build launch momentum for vadadustat in the US, subject to FDA approval.”

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Auryxia (ferric citrate) is Keryx’s US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drug for the treatment of hyperphosphatemia in dialysis dependent CKD patients and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA) in those with non-dialysis dependent CKD.

Vadadustat is Akebia’s oral, investigational hypoxia-inducible factor prolyl hydroxylase inhibitor (HIF-PHI) being developed for treating patients with anaemia caused due to CKD.

Keryx Biopharmaceuticals interim CEO Jodie Morrison said: “Bringing Keryx together with Akebia represents a unique, value-enhancing opportunity for stakeholders of both companies.”

Additionally, Keryx said that the combined entity will utilise its existing position in the commercial renal market to enhance Auryxia sales and drive launch momentum for vadadustat, following its regulatory approval.

The merger is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.