After offloading its consumer healthcare division in 2022 and in view of the gradual erosion of its top seller, Somatuline, Ipsen opted to aggressively seek external assets to enrich its pipeline. With an FDA green light for its 2017-acquired Onivyde and an expected approval for its Genfit-partnered therapy this year, the strategy looks to be paying off.


We’re looking forward to a new era of dynamic growth

David Loew, CEO


Pursuit of External Assets

Since the sale of its consumer healthcare division to compatriots Mayoly Spindler in 2022, and as generics began eating into profits from its top-selling drug, Somatuline, Ipsen has become fully focused on speciality care in oncology, rare diseases and neurology.

To build its pipeline in these areas, the French mid-cap has pro-actively searched for external assets, bringing no less than 20 new molecules into its pipeline within two years. “Our journey will be driven by the combination of growth platforms, our new medicines and more external-innovation transactions to come,” said Ipsen’s CEO David Loew at an investor event last December.


Four Launches in 2024

The company’s focus on dealmaking to get hold of new assets is already starting to show results.

One successful deal was Ipsen’s purchase of Onivyde from Merrimack Pharmaceuticals back in 2017 for an upfront payment of UD 575 million and an additional UD 450 million in potential milestones. Now, after more than ten years without any new regimens approved for first-line treatment of metastatic pancreatic cancer, the FDA has given a nod to Onivyde as part of the multidrug combination, Nalirifox, as a first-line treatment for this kind of cancer.

In addition, another agreement, the exclusive licensing contract with Genfit in 2021 for elafibranor, looks like it will also be bearing fruit this year. The primary biliary cholangitis therapy, which showed positive Phase III results in 2023, is also expected to obtain FDA approval by June.

In fact, Ipsen anticipates the launch a total of four new products in 2024. “We’re looking forward to a new era of dynamic growth. We’re anticipating four launches and further opportunities to enrich and advance our pipeline this year,” said Loew, presenting the firm’s 2023 results and plans for the new year.

These launches stand to contribute to the sales growth of at least 7 percent annually the company is projecting for the period between 2023 and 2027.


Deals to Continue

Ipsen’s strategy has already brought the company growth and in 2023 the firm saw a 6.7 percent sales growth, mainly on the back of the double-digit expansion of its thyroid, liver, and advanced kidney cancers therapy, Cabometyx, an asset acquired through a licencing agreement with Exelixis and its spasticity treatment, Dysport.

However, the mid-cap’s aggressive investment tactics also caused its core operating margin to decline in 2023 from the previous year’s 36.9 percent. Two major acquisitions last year were the rare disease specialist Albireo, an AstraZeneca spinout, and Epizyme. The former cost the firm USD 952 million, while the latter with its lead asset, Tazverik, aimed to enhance Ipsen’s oncology portfolio, had a price tag of USD 247 million.

Last year Ipsen also saw two new approvals come out of its acquisitions, the Alagille syndrome therapy Bylvay from Albireo, and the ex- Clementia Pharmaceuticals fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) treatment, Sohonos.

The mid-cap’s calculated search for external assets is likely to bring additional enhancements to its pipeline this year. “We look forward to more milestones this year and enriching the pipeline over time through additional external-innovation transactions,” said Loew. “I am confident that this strategy will deliver more medicines for patients and ensure the sustainable growth of Ipsen.”


Photo: Ipsen CEO David Loew, from