Alkermes prefers independence and opts out of takeover trend
Dublin-based pharma group says it’s not in line for takeover driven by Ireland’s low tax regime
Richard Pops, Alkermes chief executive, says that the company is not interested in being bought out as it nears the launch of new drugs.Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / THE IRISH TIMES
Dublin-based Alkermes has the low-tax domicile currently in vogue among multinational pharmaceutical companies but is not interested in being bought out as it nears the launch of new drugs, its chief executive said. Alkermes specialises in longer-acting versions of drugs for central nervous system disorders, such as Vivitrol, a monthly injection to treat addiction to alcohol and other substances.
“We are right on the threshold of so many value changing events,” CEO Richard Pops said. “We have a really strong shareholder base ... They wouldn’t necessarily be seduced by a premium.”
The company, formed by the 2011 merger of Massachusetts-based Alkermes Inc and the drug manufacturing division of Ireland’s Elan Corp, plans to file in the third quarter for US regulatory approval of aripiprazole lauroxil, a monthly injection to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. Jefferies projects peak annual sales for the drug of $618 million. Alkermes’ pipeline also includes longer-acting versions of drugs for pain, depression and multiple sclerosis.
“Our history is based on partnering,” Pops said. “We have graduated beyond that now ... Our goal is to develop these drugs ourselves.”
While Alkermes, with a market capitalisation near $7 billion, does not need big pharma companies to develop its drug candidates, it may need them at the commercial stage, he said. The company plans to launch aripiprazole lauroxil using its own US sales force, but will look to partner overseas.
Alkermes is an example of the “tax inversion” strategy that has become popular among US-based drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc, as a way to reduce corporate tax rates and make it easier to spend cash currently held overseas without having it taxed in the United States. London-Based AstraZeneca last month spurned a nearly $120 billion takeover offer from Pfizer. Shire Plc, also based in Ireland, last week rejected a $46 billion takeover bid from US rival AbbVie .