Alkermes to separate oncology business

November 2, 2022 - 4 minutes
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Alkermes plc is to explore separating its commercial-stage neuroscience business and development-stage oncology business. 

The company, its board and external financial and legal advisors plan to explore a separation of the oncology business into an independent, publicly-traded company (Oncology Co.) as part of an ongoing review of strategic alternatives for the oncology business.

Alkermes said it believes separation of the oncology business into Oncology Co. would: drive a sharp strategic focus for each business; establish separate and distinct management teams; simplify capital allocation decision-making and increase flexibility to pursue growth and investment strategies more directly aligned with each business’ respective goals; and enable the capital markets to better assess each business’ value, performance and potential, and attract a long-term shareholder base suited to each business.

“Alkermes will continue to build on our heritage of innovation and excellence in neuroscience. With a strong topline driven by the growth of our proprietary products, a specialized commercial infrastructure in neuropsychiatry and addiction, and proven drug development capabilities, the standalone neuroscience business represents a compelling opportunity to capture operating leverage, drive growth and profitability, and advance new potential medicines for neurological disorders,” said Richard Pops, chief executive officer of Alkermes. 

“With nemvaleukin now in two potential registrational studies, the oncology business has a compelling standalone investment thesis anchored by the potential medical and economic value of this potential first-in-class cancer therapy. We believe separating the oncology business at this time will best support and position nemvaleukin for success, create value for shareholders, and enable efficient advancement of our preclinical pipeline of engineered cytokines.”

Alkermes: Commercial-stage neuroscience company

Alkermes will retain its focus on significant unmet needs within neuroscience and on driving growth of its proprietary commercial products: LYBALVI, ARISTADA/ARISTADA INITIO and VIVITROL. The company will also focus on advancing the development of pipeline programs focused on neurological disorders, including ALKS 2680, an orexin 2 receptor agonist for the treatment of narcolepsy. 

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Alkermes expects to retain manufacturing and royalty revenues related to its licensed products and third-party products using the company’s proprietary technologies under license. Alkermes would expect to benefit from enhanced profitability and continued balance sheet strength following a separation of the oncology business. Pops will continue as CEO and chairman.

Oncology Co.: Development-stage oncology company

The oncology business would continue to focus on the discovery and development of cancer therapies, including the continued development of nemvaleukin alfa (nemvaleukin), a novel, investigational, engineered interleukin-2 (IL-2) variant immunotherapy. Nemvaleukin is currently in potential registration enabling studies in two difficult-to-treat tumor types: platinum-resistant ovarian cancer and mucosal melanoma. 

By selectively targeting the IL-2 pathway, nemvaleukin has broad potential clinical utility in a variety of tumor types and offers the potential for significant value creation as the development program advances. The assets subject to a separation are also expected to include a portfolio of novel, preclinical, engineered cytokines, including tumor-targeted split interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interleukin-18 (IL-18).

“The potential separation of the oncology business from Alkermes’ neuroscience business would offer a platform to enhance the performance of both businesses and unlock shareholder value. With the early traction of the LYBALVI launch and progress in the nemvaleukin development program, the value propositions for each of the neuroscience and oncology businesses have come more clearly into focus. As we look ahead, the Board unanimously agrees that the unique needs of each business would be best served by simplified resource and capital allocation decision making, tailored operating structures, and distinct leadership teams, each with a clearly defined strategic focus,” said Nancy Wysenski, lead independent director of Alkermes’ board.

Finances

In preparation for a potential separation, Alkermes said it will continue to manage the cost structure of each business. The company would expect to incur transactional and separation expenses. 

Transition and timing

Additional details regarding a separation, including the name of the contemplated Oncology Co., its executive management team and its board of directors, as well as financial details for the two contemplated companies, will be provided at a later date. 

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Should the separation happen, it is expected to be completed in the second half of 2023. Alkermes anticipates Oncology Co. would be located within the company’s existing Waltham, Mass. campus. The facilities and research and manufacturing operations in Wilmington, Ohio and Athlone, Ireland will remain with Alkermes.

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