Amgen to acquire Forbion-backed Dezima for up to $1.55 bln

Amgen Inc has agreed to buy Dezima Pharma from Forbion Capital Partners and other shareholders for up to $1.55 billion. Also included in the deal is an upfront payment of $300 million. Based in The Netherlands, Dezima develops drugs that treat dyslipidemic patients suffering from cardiovascular disease.


Naarden, The Netherlands, 16 September 2015 – Forbion Capital Partners (“Forbion”), one of the leading Dutch venture capital firms investing in world-class healthcare technologies, announces that its portfolio company, Dezima Pharma (‘Dezima’), the biotechnology company developing innovative drugs to treat dyslipidemic patients suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD), will be acquired by Amgen, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMGN).

Amgen has agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of Dezima for up to US$1.55bn from Forbion and other current shareholders, subject to obtaining U.S. Federal Trade Commission clearance. Further details of the acquisition include an upfront payment of US$300m, milestone payments of up to US$1.25bn and low-single-digit royalties on net product sales above a certain threshold.

Dezima was founded in 2012 by Prof. John Kastelein, Professor of Medicine at the Department of Vascular Medicine at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The team at Forbion recognized early on the potential of TA-8995, an oral, once-daily CETP inhibitor and helped to found, fund and staff the company, including in-licensing this lead asset from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC). Forbion and its affiliate BioGeneration Ventures then brought in other investors including New Science Ventures, and also Rob de Ree, its current CEO.

Last June, Dezima’s TULIP (“TA-8995: its Use in patients with mild dysLIPidemia”) study was published in The Lancet (full article can be found HERE) showing potent effects in treating patients with dyslipidemia. The TULIP study showed that TA-8995, both as monotherapy and on top of statins, caused significant decrease of LDL and simultaneous increase of cholesterol efflux capacity.

Sander Slootweg, Forbion’s Managing Partner and Chairman of Dezima, said, “Dezima is the poster child of a successful modern start-up company. Several of our team and advisors, including Prof. John Kastelein, filled critical management positions, such as interim CEO, CFO and project management. Xention Ltd, one of our UK portfolio companies, designed and executed the required pre-clinical studies and optimized the manufacturing of the product.” Slootweg added, “Today’s acquisition and the value that Amgen has set on the company, validates our belief in the team and the science. Dezima will be a great fit for Amgen and complements its other products targeting high cholesterol.”

“There has been an auspicious coming together of key elements leading up to this acquisition by Amgen: the combination of great chemistry by MTPC which designed TA-8995, our skilled and experienced pre-clinical and clinical development team led by Dr. John Ford and Dr. Patrick Round in Cambridge (UK) coupled with smart capital provided by Forbion, NSV and BGV,” said

Prof. John Kastelein, CSO and founder of Dezima. “I am proud to be part of this exceptional team and company, and I now look forward to working with Amgen to speed this highly promising product to market and to patients as soon as we can.”

Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma will receive a portion of the upfront payment and future development and sales milestones from Dezima. Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma will also retain development and commercialization rights to TA-8995 in certain territories in Asia, including Japan.

About Forbion Capital Partners
Forbion Capital Partners is a dedicated Life Sciences venture capital firm with offices in Naarden, The Netherlands, Munich, Germany and representation in Boston, US. Forbion invests in life sciences companies in drug discovery & development as well as medical device companies addressing substantial unmet medical needs. Forbion’s investment team of ten investment professionals has built an impressive performance track record since the late nineties with successful investments in Rhein Biotech, Crucell, Neutec, Glycart, Borean, Impella, Alantos, Acorda (ACOR), Fovea, Insmed (INSM), PanGenetics, Argenta Discovery, BioVex, Pathway Medical, CircuLite, bluebird bio (BLUE), uniQure (QURE), Argos (ARGS), arGEN-X (ARGX.BR), Santaris, PneumRx, AM-Pharma and Promedior. Forbion also operates a joint venture with BioGeneration Ventures, who manage two separate seed and early stage funds focused on Benelux. Including the new fund FCF III, Forbion manages EUR 635M across six funds. Its investors include the EIF through its European Recovery Programme (ERP), LfA and Dutch Venture Initiative (DVI) facilities and the KFW through the ERP – Venture Capital Fondsfinanzierung facility.

About Dezima Pharma B.V.
Dezima Pharma was founded in 2012 by Prof. John Kastelein, Professor of Medicine at the Department of Vascular Medicine at the Academic Medical Center of the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and financed by Forbion Capital Partners, BioGeneration Ventures and New Science Ventures and a EUR 5m loan (Innovation Credit) from the Dutch government through RVO, an agency of the Dutch ministry of Economic affairs, to develop novel products to treat dyslipidemic patients suffering from cardiovascular disease (CVD). The company’s lead product TA-8995 has been in-licenced from Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation and is a CETP inhibitor. The company has an outstanding Scientific Advisory Board including world-leading experts in the dyslipidemia space such as Dr Philip Barter, Professor at The Heart Research Institute, Sydney, Australia, and Dr Bryan Brewer, Senior Research Consultant of Lipoprotein and Atherosclerosis Research at the Medstar Research Institute, Washington DC, USA.

About dyslipidemia and CETP inhibitors
Dyslipidemia is a generally asymptomatic disease in which serum lipid levels deviate from the normal level. It is considered to be a modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease due the direct relation with atherosclerosis. The market for dyslipidemic drugs, including statins, fish oils and fibrates, topped US$25bn in 2010. Though current treatment is relatively effective a high unmet need remains: about 60% of treated patients have a considerable chance of experiencing a cardiovascular event, which comes with significant morbidity and mortality.
The Cholesteryl Ester Transfer Protein (CETP) facilitates the transfer of cholesterol from HDL to other lipoproteins including LDL, in exchange for triglycerides. The CETP mediated transfer of cholesterol into LDL particles results into maturation of those LDL particles to more atherogenic LDL particles, which contribute to macrophage foam cell, and eventually plaque formation. Large Mendelian Randomization studies, epidemiological as well as preclinical studies have provided evidence for the notion that CETP activity is inversely related to cardiovascular mortality and reduced activity of CETP by pharmaceutical means or by naturally occurring mutations in the CETP gene results in increased HDL and decreased LDL levels. This provides a rationale for inhibition of CETP activity as a therapeutic intervention in dyslipidemic conditions characterized by either low HDL or high LDL cholesterol.