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Dova Pharmaceuticals Agrees to Sobi Acquisition, Shares Jump 38%

Xconomy Raleigh-Durham — 

In the past three years, Dova Pharmaceuticals has completed a company launch, gone public, and won its first drug approval. Now the biotech is in line to be acquired by Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (Sobi).

According to deal terms announced Monday, Dova (NASDAQ: DOVA) stockholders will receive $27.50 per share up front, a 36 percent premium over the company’s closing price on Friday. Sobi would also pay shareholders of Durham, NC-based Dova $1.50 more per share if the company’s FDA-approved drug blood disorder drug gets the regulatory nod as a treatment for an additional population of patients. That would bring deal’s total value to approximately $915 million.

Dova’s stock price soared more than 38 percent to $28 on Monday following the news.

Dova’s drug, avotrombopag (Doptelet), was developed to treat thrombocytopenia, which is a low count of platelets, the blood cells involved in clotting. The disorder increases the risk of bleeding. The standard of care is a platelet transfusion. But multiple transfusions may be required and they come with the risk that patients develop antibodies that destroy the platelets.

Avotrombopag, which Dova acquired from Japanese pharmaceutical company Eisai in 2016, is designed to mimic a hormone produced in the liver and kidney that plays a role in the body’s platelet production process. In May 2018, the FDA approved the Dova drug for treating thrombocytopenia in chronic liver disease patients who are scheduled to undergo a procedure. The drug has also won approval in Europe. Dova reported $7.7 million in 2018 revenue for the drug.

Sobi focuses on therapies that treat rare diseases. The Stockholm-based company says Dova will strengthen its position in the market for blood disorder therapies, and also expand its presence in the US. The company adds that it will use its international presence to boost commercialization of Dova’s drug.

Dova has been trying to get the regulatory nod for additional applications of its drug. In June, the FDA expanded approval of the drug to include thrombocytopenia in patients who have not responded to earlier treatments. The company is also testing its drug as a treatment for low platelet counts caused by chemotherapy. A Phase 3 study is underway and data are expected in the first half of next year. According to the deal with Sobi, approval of the drug in this indication will trigger the additional $1.50 payment per Dova share.

Dova was founded in 2016 by PBM Capital Investments. When the biotech went public in 2017, it priced its offering at $17 per share. The Dova and Sobi boards of directors have both approved the acquisition, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year.

Photo by Flickr user Matthew Rutledge via a Creative Commons license