Acadia Pharma Acquires CerSci, Potential Pain Meds in $52.5M Buyout

Xconomy San Diego — 

Acadia Pharmaceuticals has acquired Texas biotech CerSci Therapeutics, a privately held company with a clinical-stage molecule under evaluation as a potential therapy for post-surgical and nerve pain.

The San Diego-based company splashed out $52.5 million on the buyout, a cash-and-stock deal—$47.2 million of it in Acadia shares, according to a regulatory filing—that closed Monday. Acadia agreed to pay CerSci shareholders up to $887 million more in payments depending on development, commercialization, and sales milestones, plus royalties.

The acquisition adds a new element to the Acadia Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ACAD) pipeline, the centerpiece of which is pimavanserin (Nuplazid), the drug the company developed to treat hallucinations and delusions associated with Parkinson’s disease. Net sales of that drug totaled $200.2 million in the first half of this year. In its bid to expand the drug into other indications Acadia has had mixed results. The FDA last month agreed to review its application to expand its use to psychosis in dementia patients, a ruling anticipated by April 3.

The company has previously looked to other biotechs to broaden its pipeline beyond pimavanserin. Just over two years ago the company paid Australian biotech Neuren Pharmaceuticals $10 million upfront to license North America rights to trofinetide, a potential therapy for Rett syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that affects brain development and the functioning of nerve cells. Earlier this year, it revealed a license and research collaboration with Vanderbilt University for its program with potential for advancement in a range of central nervous system disorders.

With the CerSci acquisition, Acadia adds ACP-044, a compound designed to interfere with multiple pain pathways without presenting an addiction risk. The company plans to start a Phase 2 clinical study of that drug candidate in the second half of 2021. In acquiring CerSci rather than licensing ACP-044, Acadia indicates its interest in the company extends beyond its pain program: Trailing ACP-044 are CerSci molecules in preclinical development for neurological conditions.

SVB Leerink analyst Marc Goodman, in a research note Tuesday, said the deal “should help increase credibility for sustainable growth at the company.” Shares in Acadia closed Tuesday at $38.37, virtually unchanged from the day prior.

Image: iStock/marchmeena29

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