Allergan (AGN) - Get Report CEO Brent Saunders' deal appetite still hasn't reached satiety. The company announced yet another—the seventh since Allergan's generics sale to Teva Pharmaceuticals (TEVA) - Get Report —on Oct. 27 worth $200 million.
Allergan will acquire Motus Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of gastroparesis--a disorder that prevents the stomach from emptying--from Rhythm Holding, the two announced Thursday. Botox maker Allergan will pay $200 million upfront and an additional consideration that hinges upon the first sale of Motus' drug relamorelin.
According to Rhythm CEO Bart Henderson, Motus announced an option to acquire agreement in 2014, in which Allergan paid $47 million for the option to acquire Motus. At the time, Rhythm was expecting a public financing, rather than an acquisition bid.
"That was on the heels of positive Phase 2 data in a smaller trial that we put out earlier that year," Henderson said by phone. "That positive data was the foundation of the deal."
While Motus' lead drug isn't ready for sale, the results attracted Allergan to the company.
"The clinical results with relamorelin in this Phase 2b trial in diabetic gastroparesis are very encouraging," said David Nicholson, executive vice president of global research and development for Allergan, in a statement. "Based on these results and the results observed in the earlier Phase 2a trial, Allergan has exercised its option to acquire Motus Therapeutics and intends to initiate Phase 3 clinical trials of relamorelin."
Analysts, though, are skeptical the results showed how effective relamorelin could be in treatment of gastroparesis.
"The results were not statistically significant, but Allergan thought they were good enough and licensed the drug," a source wrote via email.
Still, analysts concede that demand for new drugs in the space is significant.
"There's a big unmet need for gastroparesis therapy," Henderson said by phone. "There hasn't been a new drug for 30 years. It's a large patient population. There aren't good treatments available. "
Henderson declined to comment on whether the deal included a competitive process.
The news comes on the heels of several deals orchestrated by Allergan that began in mid-August. Saunders had said prior to the announcement of this string of deals that Allergan would engage in a "stepping stone" M&A strategy.
The string of deals kicked off when Teva purchased Allergan's generics business on Aug. 2, leaving it with $33.4 billion in extra cash to do deals. Saunders said at the time that the cash would be used for small tuck-in deals.
The string of deals included Allergan's $533.58 million acquisition of Tobira Therapeutics, announced Sept. 20. The same day, Allergan announced it would acquire Akarna Therapeutics for $50 million.
On Sept. 14, Allergan agreed to acquire Vitae Pharmaceuticals for $639 million, and on Sept. 6, the pharmaceutical giant announced it would acquire RetroSense Therapeutics LLC for $60 million. The company also announced the acquisition of ForSight Vision5 Inc. for $95 million on Aug. 11.
Neither company announced advisers on the latest deal, though Weil Gotshal & Manges, Debevoise & Plimpton and Covington & Burling have been behind Allergan's recent slew of tuck-in deals.
Allergan, which has a market cap of $87.84 billion, was trading at $221.87 per share Thursday, down less than a half of a percentage point from market's open.
Allergan could not be reached for immediate comment on the deal Thursday. Allergan reports earnings on Nov. 2 prior to market's open.