Lilly buys Avid to boost diagnostics and AD biz

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Positron emission tomography, Alzheimer's disease, Eli lilly

US drugmaker Eli Lilly said it will buy Avid Radiopharmaceuticals to expand its neuroscience diagnostics business.

Philadelphia-based Avid’s lead product is florbetapir, a positron emission tomography (PET) agent used to identify beta-amyloid plaques, the formation of which Lilly described as the defining “pathology of Alzheimer's disease​.”

Florbetapir, which is currently under the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assessment, has been studied in over a dozen trials in 700 subjects ranging from cognitively normal individuals to those with Alzheimer's.

Lilly spokesman Mark Taylor told in-pharmatechnologist that: “Florbetapir represents a novel diagnostic opportunity that fits well with our current pipeline and product portfolio,​” but did not speculate on expected demand.

The acquisition, valued at $300m (€217m) upfront and potentially worth up to $800m if florbetapir is approved by the FDA, follows just months after Lilly’s AD business suffered a major setback.

In August, the US drug major abandoned late-stage trials of its candidate treatment semagacestat after data indicated that the agent accelerated disease progression.

However, buying Avid does not indicate that Lilly now favours diagnostics over development according to Taylor, who explained that: “Lilly is still committed to developing new treatments for Alzheimer's.

Our pipeline contains several potential medicines targeted at this devastating disease, including solanezumab in Phase III, a BACE inhibitor in Phase I and a Phase II molecule under investigation for agitation in Alzheimer's​.”

He added that: “Lilly has no immediate plans for additional acquisitions in the diagnostics area, but will evaluate opportunities that support our strategy and expand our capabilities as they arise.”

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