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*NEWS: Full Circle: Biotech Startup Co-Founded by Entrepreneur With Ties to Allergan Will Be Acquired by the Global Pharma Company

Fauad Hasan, co-founder and CEO, Bonti

A startup that traces its founders’ lineage to Allergan will be acquired by the global pharma company.

Allergan announced last week that it will buy Bonti, with HQ in Newport Beach, for an upfront payment of $195 million, according to a press release issued by Allergan.

Bonti co-founder and CEO Fauad Hasan is a former director of biologics manufacturing and development at Allergan. He and his co-founders launched the biotech startup just three years ago, after Hasan left Allergan after it was acquired.

(In 2015, Allergan was acquired with agreement on both sides by Actavis, after deftly deflecting a hostile takeover attempt by Canada-based Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. and activist investor Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management LP.)

Bonti’s vision has been to bring innovative products to the market to address unmet aesthetic and therapeutic needs, Hasan told OC Startups Now.

“Allergan is the world leader in the field of neurotoxins, and there is no one better, who would continue our vision,” he said. “Our fast-acting neurotoxin product will complement Allergan’s market-leading medical aesthetics portfolio. And more importantly, (it) will be an attractive choice for approximately 65 million consumers who are considering medical aesthetic treatments in a market with the potential for broad expansion.”

Bonti’s meteoric trajectory was already evidenced with the closing of a $15.5 million Series C round in January, after a Series B round closed in March 2017, netting $12 million. Its Series A round, which closed in August 2015, scored $9 million.

The acquisition also validates what Allergan CEO Brent Saunders said in July at OCTANe’s Ophthalmology Technology Summit (see related story here) about the imperative of the pharma company being on the lookout for innovation externally.

OCTANe CEO Bill Carpou congratulated Bonti on its acquisition as a significant success for the OC startup/innovation ecosystem. Hasan has spoken at some of OCTANe’s events at the Cove, UCI’s innovation center.

And, Bonti is part of the OCTANe ecosystem, Carpou added, as the startup has participated in signature events put on by the Aliso Viejo tech and life sciences accelerator. Bonti execs have presented as speakers, provided input for what is needed to grow the OC startup/innovation ecosystem, and the company is a finalist at this month’s High Tech Innovation Awards. (see more info on this event here).

Allergan is a long-time OCTANe partner and a member of its board of directors. The pharma company is working with the accelerator on creating an aesthetics initiative similar to the one OCTANe took the initiative to create, the Visionary Ventures ophthalmology fund, which is spawning an upcoming sequel fund. (see related story here).

“Both Bonti and Allergan are important organizations…This is terrific news for Orange County and the ability for us to create, capitalize and grow innovative companies that have sustainable economic impact,” Carpou said..

How It Works

Bonti makes substances, known as neurotoxins, that relax muscles and are used for medical aesthetics and therapeutic purposes. Allergan’s flagship product, Botox, is also a neurotoxin, but is a different molecule.

Hasan has said that Bonti’s unique molecule works much faster and is more conducive to treating certain ailments, like muscle spasms and musculoskeletal pain, as well as the recovery of muscles and joints after injury or surgery. 

The agreement will give Allergan rights to two neurotoxin programs in Phase II development, one developed for medical aesthetics and one for therapeutic applications. Both are intended to work rapidly —  within 24 hours — with the effect lasting two to four weeks, Allergan said.

The deal also includes potential commercial milestone payments. Revenue from cosmetic business lines has become a key part of Allergan’s business model, most notably its profitable Botox business, as well as new investments in the “body contouring” market (also known as fat zapping).

Allergan shares have surged 9.5% over the last three months, compared with a 4.4% rise in the S&P 500 Index.

Other Allergan News

Also last week, Allergan announced positive clinical study results showing that higher doses of Botox are safe and help eliminate wrinkles within the glabellar lines, the skin between the eyebrows and above the nose.

“Based on this data, doubling the dose of (Botox) extends the duration of effect to 24 weeks in approximately one-third of patients,” said David Nicholson, Allergan’s chief research and development officer.

About The Author

Deirdre Newman is a long-time journalist, who's covered OC startups for a few years.

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