Amryt Pharma: The AIM drug developer potentially sitting on a US$100mln piece of paper

Amryt has a chance of being awarded a priority review voucher, which sell for several times more than the company’s current market cap

AstraZeneca - Amryt Pharma: The AIM drug developer potentially sitting on a US$100mln piece of paper

AstraZeneca PLC’s (LON:AZN) US$95mln deal to buy a priority review voucher from a Swedish drugmaker was met with a shrug of the shoulders by large parts of the City Thursday.

But the purchase is a timely reminder of the value of those little bits of paper, which have been known to sell for upwards of US$300mln.

READ: AstraZeneca scores another regulatory win in China for roxadustat anaemia drug

It might also make investors re-think how they value Amryt Pharma – an AIM company which is developing treatments for rare diseases.

Shares in the drug developer are currently suspended while it completes a merger with Aegerion Pharmaceuticals, which owns the rest of the rights to Amryt’s Lojuxta cholesterol treatment.

The merger values Amryt at around US$120mln, although before the suspension, the company’s market capitalisation was little more than US$40mln (£34mln). In the not-too-distant future, even that bigger figure may look somewhat conservative.

Amryt closing in on its own voucher

That’s because Amryt could soon be in receipt of its own fast-track voucher.

The vouchers are handed out by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to encourage companies to develop badly-needed drugs for rare diseases, and they can shave months of the review process, making them a very useful bit of paper indeed.

Amryt is developing AP101 – a potential treatment for a rare, life-limiting genetic skin condition called epidermolysis bullosa (EB).

Earlier this year, US officials confirmed that if the drug, which is in phase III studies, eventually gets approved in the US, Amryt would be awarded a voucher.

Amryt could choose to use the voucher to fast track the review of another of its drugs further down the line.

Big Pharma, big money

Or it could look to sell it, and the blue-chips are willing to pay a lot of money to get their hands on them.

For a big pharma using a voucher on a blockbuster drug, a few months could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in extra sales, or pipping a competitor to the regulatory finish line.

The highest price ever paid was back in 2015, when US giant AbbVie forked out a whopping US$350mln. In the same year, French pharma Sanofi handed over US$245mln to Retrophin for its priority review voucher.

Prices have steadily been falling as more of the vouchers are handed out, but at around US$100mln, it still represents a nice bit of potential upside to the Amryt Pharma investment case.

Quick facts: AstraZeneca

Price: 7254 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £95.17 billion

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