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Akcea Therapeutics Inks Worldwide Licensing Deal with Pfizer for Investigative Antisense Therapy, Shares Up 30%

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Akcea Therapeutics' shares are trading 30% higher today on news that it has entered into a worldwide exclusive licensing agreement with Pfizer for AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx used in the treatment of patients with cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

This morning global biopharmaceutical firm Akcea Therapeutics Inc. (AKCA:NASDAQ), a majority-owned affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc. (IONS:NASDAQ), and Pfizer Inc. (PFE:NYSE) jointly announced that the companies have entered into a "worldwide exclusive licensing agreement for AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx, an investigational antisense therapy being developed to treat patients with certain cardiovascular and metabolic diseases."

The company explains in the report that AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx is designed to reduce the "production of angiopoietin-like 3 (ANGPTL3) protein in the liver, a key regulator of triglycerides, cholesterol, glucose and energy metabolism. AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx is currently being evaluated in a Phase 2 study in patients with Type 2 diabetes, hypertriglyceridemia and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)."

Under the terms of the agreement, Akcea and Ionis will "receive a $250 million upfront license fee to be split equally between the two companies and Akcea will settle its $125 million obligation to Ionis in Akcea common stock. Both companies are also eligible to receive development, regulatory and sales milestone payments of up to $1.3 billion and tiered, double-digit royalties on annual worldwide net sales following marketing approval of AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx." The report noted that Pfizer will be responsible for all development and regulatory activities and costs beyond those associated with the ongoing Phase 2 study. Akcea will also have the right at its option, prior to regulatory filing for marketing approval, to participate in certain commercialization activities with Pfizer in the U.S. and certain additional markets. The firm advises that the transaction is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary closing conditions.

Damien McDevitt, Ph.D., Akcea's Interim CEO commented, "AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx has the potential to treat people suffering from certain cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Given the unmet medical need for this patient population and the broad market potential, we believe Pfizer's expertise and breadth of experience in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases makes it well suited to accelerate clinical development of AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx, and to deliver it to patients in need of additional therapies for these life threatening diseases."

Pfizer's Chief Scientific Officer and President of Worldwide Research & Development and Medical Mikael Dolsten, added, "Pfizer is committed to delivering breakthrough medicines to patients with unmet medical needs...AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx is a novel therapy that will complement our clinical mid-stage internal medicine pipeline, and we believe that our deep expertise in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases will help allow this program to reach its maximum potential for patients."

Akcea Therapeutics is headquartered in Boston, Mass., and is an affiliate of Ionis Pharmaceuticals. Akcea describes itself as a global biopharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing drugs to treat patients with serious and rare diseases with leading-edge, RNA-targeted medicines. The firm's programs target cardiometabolic lipid disorders and hereditary transthyretin (TTR) amyloidosis. The firm indicates that it is commercializing TEGSEDI (inotersen) and WAYLIVRA (volanesorsen) as well as advancing a mature pipeline of novel drugs, including AKCEA-APO(a)-LRx, AKCEA-ANGPTL3-LRx, AKCEA-APOCIII-LRx, and AKCEA-TTR-LRx, with the potential to treat multiple diseases. The company states that all six drugs were discovered by Ionis, and are based on Ionis' proprietary antisense technology.

Pfizer is a research-based global biopharmaceutical company engaged in the discovery, development and manufacture of healthcare products. Its global portfolio is composed of many household name brand prescription medications including Prevnar 13, Xeljanz, Eliquis, Lipitor, Celebrex, Pristiq and Viagra.

Pfizer has a market cap of approximately $198.7 billion. PFE shares opened relatively unchanged today at $35.82 (-$0.11, -0.31%) and have since traded between $35.80 and $36.26/share today.

Akcea shares opened up higher today at $19.00 (+$3.87, +25.58%) compared to Friday's closing price of $15.31. Since the open shares have traded between $18.80 and $22.47 and are currently trading at $19.71 (+4.58, +30.27%).

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