BMS to Acquire Innovative Schizophrenia Drug Maker in Mega $14 Billion Deal

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Bristol Myers Squibb, a global pharmaceutical giant, is set to expand its portfolio with the acquisition of Karuna Therapeutics for a staggering $14 billion. The deal, expected to significantly impact the neuroscience landscape, revolves around the promising experimental schizophrenia drug, KarXT.

Under the terms of the agreement, the pharmaceutical giant will pay $330 per share for Karuna, representing a remarkable 53% premium over a recent closing price for the drug maker, culminating in a deal valued at approximately $12.70 billion. The cornerstone of this acquisition is KarXT, currently under FDA review as a potential breakthrough treatment for schizophrenia.

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KarXT, a novel medication distinct from existing schizophrenia treatments, has demonstrated success in three mid- to late-stage trials. If approved, it could be introduced to the market by the end of 2024. The drug is not only a standalone treatment but is also undergoing advanced testing as an adjunctive therapy for existing schizophrenia drugs and as a potential remedy for psychosis in Alzheimer’s patients.

The company‚Äôs CEO, Christopher Boerner, expressed enthusiasm, stating, “This transaction fits squarely within our business development priorities of pursuing assets that are strategically aligned, scientifically sound, financially attractive, and have the potential to address areas of significant unmet medical need.”

The move is particularly noteworthy as the company had previously shifted focus away from neuroscience research, redirecting resources towards oncology. However, the company recently reinstated neuroscience as a therapeutic area of focus, aiming to strengthen its position in the central nervous system (CNS) arena.

The acquisition mirrors a broader industry trend, with pharmaceutical companies recognizing the potential of neuroscience research. AbbVie’s recent $8.7 billion deal to acquire Cerevel Therapeutics, a company with a similar drug in advanced testing, underscores the growing interest in this field.

Both Karuna’s and Cerevel’s drugs target muscarinic receptors, distinct from conventional schizophrenia treatments that primarily address dopamine and serotonin. Karuna’s drug, KarXT, specifically targets both the “M4” and “M1” members of the muscarinic receptor protein family.

Karuna’s journey began with the formation of the company around xanomeline, a drug discarded by Eli Lilly. The acquisition by Bristol Myers serves as validation for Karuna’s decade-long commitment and its innovative approach to schizophrenia treatment. Clinical testing has showcased the potential of KarXT in reducing the severity of schizophrenia symptoms, offering hope to the 1.6 million individuals treated for schizophrenia in the U.S. who often do not respond well to existing therapies. The underlying causes of schizophrenia
remain incompletely understood, and symptoms range from hallucinations to withdrawal and diminished motivation.

As the company embraces this strategic acquisition, the pharmaceutical landscape anticipates the impact of KarXT in addressing the unmet medical needs of individuals battling schizophrenia, marking a significant step forward in neurological research and treatment.

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