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AbbVie is acquiring Cerevel Therapeutics and its neuroscience portfolio of multiple clinical-stage and preclinical candidates for $8.7B. Cerevel’s pipeline addresses diseases including schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease (PD), and mood disorders. Its lead candidates are emraclidine for schizophrenia (Phase II) and psychosis (Phase I), and tavapadon in Phase III for PD.

AbbVie will acquire all outstanding shares of Cerevel for $45.00 per share in cash. This transaction is expected to close in the middle of 2024.  

“Our existing neuroscience portfolio and our combined pipeline with Cerevel represents a significant growth opportunity well into the next decade,” said Richard A. Gonzalez, chairman and chief executive officer, AbbVie. 

Cerevel’s emraclidine, a positive allosteric modulator (PAM) of the muscarinic M4 receptor, is a next-generation antipsychotic that may be effective in treating schizophrenia patients. Schizophrenia impacts more than five million people in the G7 (U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and Japan) and has significant unmet need. 

In a Phase Ib study, emraclidine has shown promising efficacy and safety in schizophrenia and is currently completing two Phase II trials that were designed to be registration enabling. In addition, emraclidine has potential in dementia-related psychosis in Alzheimer’s disease and PD. The drug is currently in a Phase I study in elderly healthy volunteers in support of a potential Alzheimer’s disease psychosis program.

In addition to emraclidine, Cerevel has multiple assets advancing in clinical development that AbbVie says are complementary to its priority areas within neuroscience. Tavapadon, a first-in-class dopamine D1/D5 selective partial agonist for the management of PD, is currently in Phase III studies and has potential for both monotherapy and adjunctive treatment. 

Tavapadon’s efficacy and safety-tolerability profile could make it useful for early PD, and thus a complementary asset to AbbVie’s existing symptomatic therapies for advanced PD. AbbVie’s CVL-354, currently in Phase I, is a kappa opioid receptor antagonist that the company says: “Has the potential to provide significantly improved efficacy and tolerability compared to existing treatments for major depressive disorder.”

Another Cerevel drug candidate, darigabat, currently in Phase II, is an alpha 2/3/5 selective GABAA receptor PAM for treatment-resistant epilepsy and panic disorder.  

On its website, Cerevel notes, “Twenty years of research and investment by Pfizer, supported by an initial capital commitment from an affiliate of Bain Capital and a keystone equity position from Pfizer, has resulted in our broad and diverse pipeline.”

Ron Renaud, president and chief executive officer, Cerevel Therapeutics, said, “The talented, passionate, and dedicated Cerevel team has made great progress over the past five years in developing our innovative suite of potential medicines, and we are pleased that AbbVie has recognized the tremendous potential of our pipeline. This acquisition reinforces the renaissance we are seeing in neuroscience, and we are proud to be at the forefront.”

Gonzalez added that, “AbbVie will leverage its deep commercial capabilities, international infrastructure, and regulatory and clinical expertise to deliver substantial shareholder value with multibillion-dollar sales potential across Cerevel’s portfolio of assets.”

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