Alexion Pharmaceuticals has announced that it will acquire Swedish biopharmaceutical company Wilson Therapeutics for $855m.

Alexion has made a recommended public cash offer to the shareholders in Wilson Therapeutics to acquire all outstanding shares in the company by way of a tender offer.

Wilson develops novel therapies for patients with rare copper-mediated disorders, such as Wilson disease, a rare inherited disorder of copper metabolism that is characterised by excessive deposition of copper in the liver, brain, and other tissues.

The company has a drug candidate, WTX101, in Phase II development as a treatment for Wilson disease. WTX101 is a binding agent with a unique mechanism of action and ability to access and bind to copper and promote its removal from the liver. It has received fast track and orphan destination in the US.

Alexion hopes that the move will help it expand its rare diseases pipeline after the company received criticism over the high price of blood disease drug Soliris, which, at $500,000 per patient per year, is one of the most expensive drugs in the world. In 2017, the chief commercial officer, chief financial officer and two executive vice presidents left the company following a sales practices scandal.

Alexion CEO Ludwig Hantson said: “Wilson disease is a rare disorder that can lead to severe liver disease, including cirrhosis and acute liver failure, as well as debilitating neurological morbidities such as impaired movement, gait, speech, swallowing, and psychiatric disorders. WTX101 is an innovative product that addresses the underlying cause of the disease and has the potential to define a new standard of care in treating Wilson disease, an area that has not had a new treatment in over two decades.

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“The acquisition of Wilson Therapeutics is a strong strategic fit for Alexion given the overlap with our current clinical and commercial focus on metabolic and neurologic disorders, and is an important first step in rebuilding our clinical pipeline.”

The acquisition of Wilson Therapeutics requires approval of relevant regulatory authorities, and the transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018.