$354M ex­it pack­age in hand, Medi­va­tion CEO David Hung com­pletes a mas­ter class in biotech auc­tions

David Hung, Medi­va­tion CEO

Now that Medi­va­tion CEO David Hung has com­plet­ed the deal of a life­time with a stratos­pher­ic buy­out, he’s grab­bing a $35 mil­lion gold­en para­chute that is sched­uled to burst open in about a month and car­ry him back down to earth in style. And that’s part of a $354 mil­lion pack­age of stock and op­tions he can now cash out of.

The de­tails on the gold­en para­chute — along with a blow-by-blow ac­count of the bid­ding process that led up to Pfiz­er’s $14 bil­lion win­ner — were all in­clud­ed in an SEC fil­ing on Tues­day. And it makes for re­quired read­ing for any biotech ex­ec look­ing to make the big score some sun­ny day.

Oliv­er Brandi­court, Sanofi CEO

The game got start­ed in late March, when new Sanofi CEO Olivi­er Brandi­court con­tact­ed Hung and asked for a call. Days lat­er, the sto­ry was leaked to the busi­ness press, and Medi­va­tion was in play.

The re­view of what fol­lowed over the next few months in­cludes some in­ter­est­ing de­tails on Medi­va­tion’s re­sponse to Sanofi’s ini­tial low­ball of­fer. Nev­er hap­py with the open­ing bid, Medi­va­tion had an ace in the hole: Pfiz­er ex­ecs al­most im­me­di­ate­ly be­gan to ea­ger­ly vol­un­teer their in­ter­est to get in­to the auc­tion. And de­ter­mined to get top dol­lar, Medi­va­tion in­vit­ed more com­pa­nies to join Pfiz­er and Sanofi at the bar­gain­ing ta­ble.

To keep them en­gaged as the num­bers raced high­er, Medi­va­tion drew up a set of long range fi­nan­cial fore­casts for three dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios in­volv­ing Xtan­di, its ap­proved can­cer drug, as well as its PARP in­hibitor ta­la­zoparib and an­oth­er mys­tery drug in the pipeline called pidilizum­ab, a can­cer treat­ment that Medi­va­tion ini­tial­ly thought was a check­point ther­a­py un­til it was forced to con­clude it wasn’t sure ex­act­ly what the mech­a­nism of ac­tion was. By the time the of­fers be­gan to fly, though, it bare­ly war­rant­ed a men­tion.

Un­der Medi­va­tion’s three sce­nar­ios, the com­pa­ny pro­ject­ed that its ex­pect­ed 2016 rev­enue of $922 mil­lion could peak at be­tween $5.7 bil­lion and $8.5 bil­lion in 2027, a lit­tle more than a decade away. And mean­while, he and the Medi­va­tion team con­duct­ed a pub­lic cam­paign to per­suade the in­dus­try that ta­la­zoparib was a cer­tain block­buster-to-be, ca­pa­ble of gen­er­at­ing more rev­enue than Xtan­di it­self.

It was all wild­ly over the top, but Hung was pulling out all the stops.

Near­ing the close of the auc­tion, Medi­va­tion set an Au­gust 20 dead­line for all fi­nal of­fers, net­ting Pfiz­er’s win­ning $81.50 bid along with two oth­ers for $80.25 and $80. For the mas­ter deal­mak­er, known for bag­ging ma­jor league col­lab­o­ra­tions that didn’t al­ways pan out, it was an un­mis­tak­able win.

For Pfiz­er, there are still years of ex­plain­ing ahead as it at­tempts to jus­ti­fy pay­ing a price many an­a­lysts thought was way too high.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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So what hap­pened with No­var­tis' gene ther­a­py group? Here's your an­swer

Over the last couple of days it’s become clear that the gene therapy division at Novartis has quietly undergone a major reorganization. We learned on Monday that Dave Lennon, who had pursued a high-profile role as president of the unit with 1,500 people, had left the pharma giant to take over as CEO of a startup.

Like a lot of the majors, Novartis is an open highway for head hunters, or anyone looking to staff a startup. So that was news but not completely unexpected.

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David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Who are the women su­per­charg­ing bio­phar­ma R&D? Nom­i­nate them for this year's spe­cial re­port

The biotech industry has faced repeated calls to diversify its workforce — and in the last year, those calls got a lot louder. Though women account for just under half of all biotech employees around the world, they occupy very few places in C-suites, and even fewer make it to the helm.

Some companies are listening, according to a recent BIO survey which showed that this year’s companies were 2.5 times more likely to have a diversity and inclusion program compared to last year’s sample. But we still have a long way to go. Women represent just 31% of biotech executives, BIO reported. And those numbers are even more stark for women of color.

Vicente Anido (University of West Virginia via YouTube)

Aerie fires CEO af­ter lead pro­gram flop, com­ments about pri­ma­ry end­points be­ing 'not re­quired'

Aerie Pharmaceuticals CEO Vicente Anido has left the company less than a week after trying to chart a Phase III study in the wake of a serious Phase IIb flop.

Anido’s last day at Aerie was Friday, the biotech announced in a news release Tuesday morning, and Benjamin McGraw is taking his place in an interim role. The now former CEO was terminated without cause, according to an SEC filing.

The board has started looking for a full-time chief to take his place.

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When ef­fi­ca­cy is bor­der­line: FDA needs to get more con­sis­tent on close-call drug ap­provals, agency-fund­ed re­search finds

In the exceedingly rare instances in which clinical efficacy is the only barrier to a new drug’s approval, new FDA-funded research from FDA and Stanford found that the agency does not have a consistent standard for defining “substantial evidence” when flexible criteria are used for an approval.

The research comes as the FDA is at a crossroads with its expedited-review pathways. The accelerated approval pathway is under fire as the agency recently signed off on a controversial new Alzheimer’s drug, with little precedent to explain its decision. Meanwhile, top officials like Rick Pazdur have called for a major push to simplify and clarify all of the various expedited pathways, which have grown to be must-haves for sponsors of nearly every newly approved drug.

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Lat­est news: It’s a no on uni­ver­sal boost­ers; Pa­tient death stuns gene ther­a­py field; In­side Tril­li­um’s $2.3B turn­around; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

Next week is shaping up to be a busy one, as our editor-in-chief John Carroll and managing editor Kyle Blankenship lead back-to-back discussions with a great group of experts to discuss the weekend news and trends. John will be spending 30 minutes with Jake Van Naarden, the CEO of Lilly Oncology, and Kyle has a brilliant panel lined up: Harvard’s Cigall Kadoch, Susan Galbraith, the new head of cancer R&D at AstraZeneca, Roy Baynes at Merck, and James Christensen at Mirati. Don’t miss out on the action — sign up here.

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Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a specific market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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