Narcan Maker Adapt to Be Acquired by Emergent BioSolutions

(Bloomberg) -- The maker of Narcan, the opioid-overdose antidote that’s been widely used across the U.S. to combat the nation’s addiction crisis, will be acquired by Emergent BioSolutions Inc.

Emergent said the $735 million deal for Adapt Pharma, which includes a $635 million upfront payment and as much as $100 million in potential sales-based milestones, will expand the use of the nasal spray while maintaining its affordability and raising awareness of naloxone, the generic name for Narcan. The deal is expected to generate annual revenue of as much as $220 million in 2019, the company said.

The Gaithersburg, Maryland-based drugmaker said on a conference call with analysts on Tuesday that it plans to capitalize on its experience of contracting with the U.S. government to provide treatments. Last year, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, and the administration has announced plans to provide grant money for combating the crisis.

Narcan is a user-friendly alternative to a syringe, the common, decades-old method of administering naloxone. It is increasingly found in the hands of law enforcement and on school campuses, thanks in part to Adapt’s efforts to give the drug away for free or at a discount. Adapt has worked with state legislators and federal policy makers to adjust laws and remove burdens for access. At least 45 states and the District of Columbia allow naloxone to be obtained without a prescription.

Founded in 1998, Emergent generated sales of $561 million last year. It provides patients and the military with products that “address accidental, intentional and naturally occurring public health threats,” according to its website. Products include vaccines for smallpox and anthrax. Emergent said it doesn’t plan to increase the price of Narcan.

The acquisition comes after Adapt’s campaign to raise awareness and expand availability of Narcan since it was approved by U.S. regulators in 2015. Adapt, which is based in Dublin but operates out of Radnor, Pennsylvania, is one of a handful of companies that in recent years have introduced products delivering naloxone.

Addiction specialists have said raising awareness about naloxone is critical to combating a national crisis that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, killed 42,000 people in 2016.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.