Merz Therapeutics has entered an agreement to buy three commercial assets from Acorda Therapeutics for $185m, a day after the latter biotech filed for bankruptcy.

Germany-based Merz is acting as a “stalking horse” bidder, meaning the assets could be sold for more than the $185m opening bid if another company decides to swoop in at a higher price. These types of bids come into play in cases involving bankrupt companies.

The sale process is expected to end in June 2024, according to a 2 April press release by Merz.

The deal is for all US-based Acorda’s assets, including Inbrija (levodopa inhalation powder), and Ampyra (dalfampridine), the latter marketed as Fampyra (fampridine) outside of the US. Inbrija is used to treat patients with Parkinson’s disease whilst Ampyra/Fampyra is approved to help the improve walking ability in patients with multiple sclerosis.

Inbrija and Fampyra generated global sales of $31m and $73m respectively in 2023. According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Centre, Fampyra used to see sales of over $500m in 2017. But once it lost exclusivity in 2018, generics flooded the market.

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A few years ago, Acorda was a big player in the neurodegenerative disorder space, splashing $363m to acquire Finnish biopharma Biotie Therapies, a developer of Parkinson’s disease therapies, in 2016.

Acorda has since struggled financially as sales of its drugs weakened. Biogen, which had a 2009 license agreement for Fampyra outside the US, returned the rights to Acorda earlier this year. Shares in the company continued to dive and Acorda ultimately filed for bankruptcy, announced via a 1 April press release.

Merz will add Acorda’s medicines to a pipeline which includes Xeomin (incobotulinumtoxinA). As per its US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) label, the botulinum compound is approved to treat chronic sialorrhea – otherwise known as excessive drooling, upper limb spasticity, and cervical dystonia, amongst others.

Merz Group’s COO Jörg Bergler said: “This investment would add significantly to Merz Therapeutics’ growth strategy and expand our portfolio in the field of movement disorders and neurodegeneration.”

Commenting on the company’s bankruptcy filing, Acorda’s CEO Ron Cohen said: “Acorda’s management team and board have evaluated all of our strategic options, and following an exhaustive process believe that this option is in the best interest of stakeholders.”

Merz already has experience buying US-listed companies, having acquired the medical device company Ulthera for $600m in 2014.