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Activist Investor Scopia Gets Two Board Seats in Deal with Acorda

Xconomy New York — 

Acorda Therapeutics has cut a deal with Scopia Capital Management, enabling the activist investor that has previously pushed to sell the company, to name two directors to its board.

Scopia will support the board members Acorda (NASDAQ: ACOR) nominates at its annual shareholder meeting this year as a part of the agreement. Scopia, which this morning reported an 18.1 percent stake in the Ardsley, NY, company, also consented to various standstill provisions, among them an agreement not to “effect or seek to effect any extraordinary corporate transaction,” according to a regulatory filing.

Scopia has put pressure on Acorda during a tumultuous time for the company, which has suffered a few setbacks with two of its experimental drugs over the past year and lost key patents for its flagship therapy for multiple sclerosis patients, dalfampridine (Ampyra).

Scopia had called for the company to sell itself last year, and Acorda responded by saying it would do better if it stayed the course and pressed ahead with the experimental Parkinson’s disease drugs it’s been hoping to build around.

Since that time, however, Acorda has faced a few more bumps in the road. It scrapped one of those Parkinson’s drugs, tozadenant, due to safety problems, and reported that another Parkinson’s treatment, SYN120, failed a Phase 2 trial. Its future now largely rests with a third Parkinson’s therapy, Inbrija, whose launch was delayed after the company got a “refuse to file” letter from the FDA and faces a possible commercial battle with a rival drug from Sunovion Pharmaceuticals also headed for a regulatory review. Acorda has since resubmitted the approval application, with a decision expected by Oct. 5.

Acorda has appealed the court ruling that stripped dalfampridine of its remaining patents. The Wall Street Journal also reported in January that the company was exploring a sale.