NASH is the most promising therapeutic area in the pharmaceutical sector

NASH – or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis – is the therapeutic area which many Big Pharma companies are targeting, the most active being Allergan, Gilead and Novartis, which have already invested billions in acquisitions and research programs. NASH is a condition causing the development of fat in the liver and diffuse inflammation, leading to cirrhosis. It affects more than 16 million people and kills approximately 20,000 in the US, the largest market in the world. The disease is apparently more common in overweight people: since obesity is now a worldwide epidemic, NASH is expected to rise dramatically. According to specialists in the field, the Nash market is likely to be worth as much as $35bn a year soon. The largest investment in the sector has been conducted by Allergan, which has spent $1.7bn to acquire Tobira. The company has a promising investigational drug, Cenicriviroc, expected to be available at the beginning of 2019. Allergan has recently acquired another Nash-focused drugmaker, Arkana, for $50m. Gilead has entered the field too, by acquiring Nimbus –which has a rich R&D program for NASH - for $1.2bn. Intercept Therapeutics and GenFit (France) probably boast the best pipelines: the former appears to be the more promising, thanks to its obeticholic acid-based product. (Source FT)