Spherix Global Insights

December 01, 2022

A New Horizon? Buyout Interest from J&J (Janssen), Sanofi, and Amgen

With one of the most promising autoimmune and rare disease product pipelines in the industry, it is no surprise that Horizon Therapeutics has attracted the attention as a potential acquisition target by three of the biggest players in the autoimmune space – Janssen, Sanofi, and Amgen.


Who’s making moves?

Given Spherix Global Insights’ deep expertise and focus on autoimmune specialties and indications, here is our perspective on why the deals make sense for each potential acquirer and what will drive the value of this deal.

With the “sun setting” on several of Janssen’s key autoimmune assets – Remicade, Stelara – and an autoimmune pipeline on the distant “horizon,” this acquisition fills a huge product pipeline gap for Janssen. In most cases, the Horizon product pipeline is complimentary rather than cannibalizing to Janssen’s existing product lineup.

Acquiring Horizon could support Janssen’s strong position within the dermatology and rheumatology audiences and further its expansion into key indications such as atopic dermatitis (AD), alopecia areata, systemic sclerosis, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Horizon’s Tepezza for thyroid eye disease could provide a nice runway for Janssen’s early ophthalmology assets as well. Will Janssen bid high enough or quick enough?


A Horizon acquisition could bolster Sanofi’s position as an immune player. Blockbuster Dupixent, initially approved for AD and well-entrenched among dermatologists as the leading advanced systemic, is now capitalizing on a noteworthy lifecycle strategy (eosinophilic esophagitis, prurigo nodularis, severe asthma, chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps).

The Horizon pipeline, including ADX-914 in AD, would make Sanofi a behemoth in this indication when coupled with their own pipeline AD assets (atuzabrutinib, amlitelimab, and rilzabrutinib). Horizon’s daxdilimab in AA and dermatomyositis would further cement Sanofi as one of the leading dermatology companies in the world and enhance their presence in rheumatology with a potential SLE indication. At present, Sanofi’s primary rheumatology play is with Kevzara, it’s IL-6 inhibitor in RA, which has just fractional share of the biologic market; dazodalibep is also being investigated for RA and Sjögren’s syndrome.

Sanofi also has some residual nephrology expertise, as a hangover from sevelamer and development of venglustat for ADPKD (which was ultimately discontinued) – which would be useful for dazodalibep development in FSGS and kidney transplant as well as for enhancing the nephrology strategy for Krystexxa (Horizon’s gout therapy currently being marketed to rheumatology and nephrology audiences). We like this one.


After much recent investment in oncology and biosimilars, Amgen looks to be re-asserting itself in the autoimmune and nephrology space. The recent acquisition of ChemoCentryx provided Amgen with Tavneos (avacopan) for ANCA vasculitis – a rheumatology and nephrology play that could find synergy with Horizon’s Krystexxa – and a pipeline of complement mediated assets that have potential in hidradenitis suppurativa, C3G, celiac disease, and diabetic kidney disease.

Adding Horizon to the mix would provide immediate and synergistic commercial opportunities with Tavneos and Krystexxa, but the most important aspect of this potential acquisition would be the pipeline. Amgen is still widely viewed as the “king” of nephrology and would be well-suited to develop dazodalibep in FSGS and kidney transplant.

It also provides a portfolio in dermatology, adding daxdilimab indications (alopecia areata and dermatomyositis) and ADX-914 (AD) to Amgen’s current dermatology assets, Enbrel, Otezla, and Amjevita (a biosimilar to Humira slated for a January 2023 launch), in addition to pipeline prospects rocatinlimab (AD) and ABP-654 (a biosimilar to Stelara). It also gives a solid pipeline in lupus by adding Horizon’s daxdilimab to Amgen’s Phase 2 assets, efavaleukin alfa and rozibafusp alfa.

To round out the synergy, Horizon’s blockbuster drug, Tepezza, for thyroid eye disease, could give Amgen the entry to ophthalmology they will need when introducing ABP-938, their biosimilar for Eylea.


Other players we could envision jumping in? AstraZeneca, BMS, and Novartis seem like contenders for certain, but this pipeline could attract many more.


Trying to value the opportunity?

Spherix research covers gMG, SjS, FSGS, CKD, AA, SLE, LN, RA, AD, and other key indications that will drive the value of this deal.

If you don’t intimately understand these markets, Spherix is the trusted, independent source that you need to get up to speed. Contact us today!