AzurRx BioPharma Announces Acquisition of First Wave Bio and its Proprietary Niclosamide Formulations Targeting Multi-Billion Dollar Inflammatory Bowel Disease Indications
AzurRx BioPharma to be renamed “First Wave BioPharma” and trade under new NASDAQ ticker symbol, “FWBI”
Three IBD clinical indications, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, added to GI therapeutic pipeline with multiple near-term inflection points
Conference call scheduled for today at 8:30 a.m. ET
BOCA RATON, Fla., Sept. 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- AzurRx BioPharma, Inc. (“AzurRx” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: AZRX), a company specializing in the development of targeted, non-systemic therapies for gastrointestinal (GI) diseases, today announced that it has entered a definitive agreement to acquire First Wave Bio, Inc. (“First Wave Bio”) in a stock and cash transaction valued at $229 million, including certain development, regulatory and sales milestones. First Wave Bio is a clinical-stage biotechnology company specializing in the development of novel, gut-targeted, small molecule therapies for auto-immune inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and other serious conditions.
In conjunction with the acquisition, AzurRx announced that it is changing its corporate name to “First Wave BioPharma, Inc.” As part of the plan, First Wave BioPharma will trade its common shares on Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol, “FWBI,” which is anticipated to be effective on or about Thursday, September 23, 2021. In addition, the Company will launch a new website with the following address: www.firstwavebio.com. AzurRx’s management team, including James Sapirstein, Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, will continue to lead the renamed company.
“The acquisition of First Wave Bio, and the creation of First Wave BioPharma, Inc. is a transformative event that significantly expands our GI development pipeline and positions our company for new growth opportunities in the inflammatory bowel disease therapeutic space,” stated Mr. Sapirstein. “Our portfolio now includes new indications for several IBDs that represent multi-billion dollar commercial market opportunities. In the U.S. last year, it is estimated that there were more than 850,000 ulcerative colitis diagnoses and 625,000 Crohn’s disease diagnoses, and these patient populations and markets are expected to grow substantially over the next decade. We believe that our proprietary formulations of niclosamide, with their novel anti-inflammatory mechanism of action, non-systemic absorption, and safety benefits, will enable us to address significant unmet clinical needs for IBD patients, especially in the mild-to-moderate disease categories. With our expanded pipeline and new IBD indications, we expect strong growth and increased shareholder value.”
Per the definitive agreement, AzurRx will wholly own all rights to First Wave Bio’s proprietary formulations of niclosamide, a small molecule drug which features anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties that are designed to address multiple GI conditions. Further, AzurRx will have sole ownership of First Wave Bio’s robust intellectual property (IP) portfolio, which covers method of use and delivery of these formulations as treatments for various auto-immune, inflammatory and viral conditions.
In January 2021, AzurRx in-licensed from First Wave Bio the exclusive global rights to develop two niclosamide therapeutic indications – for COVID-19-related GI infections, and for immune checkpoint inhibitor-associated colitis and diarrhea (ICI-AC) in advanced stage cancer patients. Following the acquisition of First Wave Bio, AzurRx’s internal development pipeline will include three new clinical IBD indications in ulcerative proctitis (UP) and ulcerative proctosigmoiditis (UPS), ulcerative colitis (UC), and Crohn’s disease (CD).
James Pennington, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of AzurRx, commented, “There is a wealth of clinical data that supports the antiviral and anti-inflammatory capabilities of niclosamide. More recently, data generated by First Wave Bio in ulcerative proctitis supported the broader potential for niclosamide in multiple inflammatory bowel diseases where we believe our niclosamide formulations could offer significant advantages over other currently available treatments including steroids, 5-ASAs, and biologics – especially in the mild-to-moderate disease stage. Specifically, our niclosamide formulations are orally delivered, are targeted specifcally to the areas of the GI tract where the disease-causing inflammation occurs, and avoid the risk of steroid-related immunosuppressant complications. Additionally, the manufacturing process for our niclosamide products can be scaled up to supply large populations quickly.”
Mr. Sapirstein commented, “I’m excited about our expanded pipeline as we move into the IBD therapeutic space. We will now be advancing a pipeline that spans six indications and includes several clinical-stage programs. These programs are all built around our two proprietary technologies -- niclosamide, and adrulipase (MS1819), which we are continuing to develop as a treatment for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI), a life-threatening digestive disorder seen in patients with cystic fibrosis and chronic pancreatitis. With multiple clinical trials advancing and others to soon initiate, along with a strong portfolio of long-lasting patents protecting niclosamide’s use for COVID-19 GI infections, ICI-AC and the IBDs, the next several years should be rich in milestones as we continue to advance our development programs, generate data, and bring new assets into the clinic.”
Gary D. Glick, CEO and Founder of First Wave Bio, added, “This is an exciting day. We believe the acquisition of First Wave Bio by AzurRx will unlock the value of our proprietary niclosamide formulations targeting IBD. We are confident that the AzurRx team will successfully advance these programs along their respective clinical and regulatory pathways.”
Pursuant to the terms of the definitive agreement, the transaction is being effected via a reverse triangular merger, and is anticipated to close imminently this morning upon receipt of evidence from the Secretary of State of the State of Delaware of the completion of certain filings relating to the merger. For a more detailed description of the terms of the First Wave Bio acquisition and the related definitive merger agreement, please see the Company’s Current Report on Form 8-K, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on September 13, 2021.
H.C. Wainwright & Co. acted as advisor to AzurRx in connection with the acquisition.
Conference Call Information:
An audio webcast of the conference call will be accessible via the Investors section of the AzurRx BioPharma website (www.azurrx.com) and the First Wave BioPharma website (www.firstwavebio.com). An archive of the webcast will remain available for 90 days, beginning at approximately 10:30 a.m. ET on September 13, 2021.
About First Wave Bio, Inc.
About AzurRx BioPharma, Inc.
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