Ligand Pharmaceuticals has announced a definitive agreement for the acquisition of the complete outstanding shares of Austria-based biopharmaceutical company APEIRON Biologics in a $100m cash deal.

The deal also includes future payments based on commercial and regulatory milestones.

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The strategic move will grant Ligand royalty rights to QARZIBA (dinutuximab beta), a treatment for high-risk neuroblastoma in patients aged 12 months and above.

It is indicated for those who have responded to induction chemotherapy, undergone myeloablative therapy and stem cell transplantation, and with a history of relapsed or refractory neuroblastoma with or without residual disease.

APEIRON co-developed QARZIBA, which received the European Medicines Agency approval in 2017. This therapy is currently available in more than 35 countries.

The company receives royalties on the product’s net sales outside mainland China from Recordati and within mainland China from BeiGene.

Ligand will make further payments based on commercial and regulatory milestones, with potential payments up to $28m by either 2030 or 2034 on QARZIBA royalties exceeding preset thresholds.

The agreement received unanimous approval from the board of directors of Ligand and the supervisory board of APEIRON.

The acquisition will conclude in July 2024.

Ligand is also investing $4m in invIOs Holding, an APEIRON spin-off, under a stock purchase agreement.

This funding will support the research and development of three early-stage immuno-oncology assets.

Ligand CEO Todd Davis stated: “The addition of QARZIBA to our commercial royalty portfolio further supports our growth strategy to invest in high-value medicines that deliver significant clinical value and generate predictable and long-term revenue streams for our investors.

“QARZIBA is the only immunotherapy for high-risk neuroblastoma marketed across Europe and in other parts of the world. We believe this drug will be a meaningful contributor to our royalty revenue, which is now driven by a diversified portfolio of 12 key commercial-stage products.”