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Intercept Pharmaceuticals, a firm whose treatment for a prevalent liver disease once made it the hottest stock in biotech, said Tuesday it would sell the company for less than $1 billion.

Alfasigma, an Italian pharmaceutical firm, will pay $19 a share for Intercept, in a roughly $800 million cash deal that represents an 80% premium to the company’s recent trading price. Intercept expects the deal to close by the end of the year.


The transaction comes three months after the Food and Drug Administration rejected Intercept’s treatment for NASH, an increasingly common fatty liver disease perceived as a potential gold mine by drug companies. Intercept’s medicine, called obeticholic acid, would have been the first approved treatment for NASH, but serious concerns about the risk of drug-related liver damage and uncertainty over whether its modest effects would improve patients’ lives made it unapprovable in the eyes of the FDA.

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