Intercept Pharmaceuticals, a company that once led the race for a NASH drug, is set to be acquired by Italian firm Alfasigma for $794 million. Alfasigma will pay $19 per Intercept share, marking an 82% premium over Intercept’s closing stock price prior to the announcement. Intercept’s primary asset, obeticholic acid, was approved by the FDA in 2016 as a treatment for primary biliary cholangitis under the brand name Ocaliva. The company had hoped that the drug could also treat NASH, a more common liver disorder.
However, after the FDA rejected its application twice, Intercept decided to halt its NASH efforts and refocus on rare liver diseases. Ocaliva remains the company’s only commercialized product, bringing in $151.6 million in sales in the first half of the year. Alfasigma’s acquisition of Intercept aligns with its core business areas of gastroenterology and hepatology.