Looking to shore up its immunology offering, Eli Lilly is set to acquire DICE therapeutics for a whopping $2.4bn.
The deal, which is still subject to final regulatory approval, will see Lilly purchase all outstanding shares of DICE. At $48 a share for the South San Francisco,California-based biopharma, Lilly is paying a 40% premium on top of the 30-day average trading price.
Patrik Jonsson, executive vice president, president of Lilly Immunology and Lilly USA, chief customer officer, welcomed the deal. In a 20 June statement, he said the deal would “[enhance] our efforts to make life better for people living with devastating autoimmune diseases”.
According to GlobalData’s deals database, this would be Eli Lilly’s third most valuable acquisition.
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DICE’s novel oral therapeutic candidates positioned it as an attractive prospect for acquisition. Utilising its proprietary DELSCAPE platform, DICE currently has oral IL-17 inhibitors in clinical development, aimed at treating chronic diseases in immunology, in addition to oral integrins and an oral checkpoint inhibitor.
DICE currently has two oral IL-17 inhibitors in clinical development; DC-806 is in Phase II trials for plaque psoriasis treatment, and DC-856 is in a Phase I for psoriasis. Acquiring these treatments could pave the way for Lilly to enter the highly competitive psoriasis market, where AbbVie, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson have already clashed.
Kevin Judice, PhD, CEO of DICE Therapeutics, said Lilly’s resources, global reach, and clinical development capabilities will best allow DICE to develop these treatments further.
In recent years, Lilly has lagged behind rivals in the immunology space – where so many blockbuster drugs have risen. It established an immunology business unit back in 2021, supported by drugs like Omvoh (mirikizumab) for ulcerative colitis and lebrikizumab for atopic dermatitis.
With two of its upcoming drug launches already pipped to be blockbusters by 2028, smart manoeuvres in the immunology space could help Lilly close the gap between itself and other companies like Johnson & Johnson.
Both companies’ boards have backed the deal, but the takeover is contingent on Lilly acquiring any further shares from other shareholders. DICE’s board of directors has unanimously recommended that their shareholders sell. Lilly expects the deal to close in the Q3 2023.