Celgene caused a stir when it fronted Acetylon $100 million three years back, snagging an option to buy the company in a deal that valued it at $1.7 billion. But last May, Celgene quietly passed on that pact, satisfied to let the option lapse.
The deal-making team at Celgene — which still has an equity stake in the biotech — was drawn to Acetylon’s work on HDAC inhibitors, a field which just saw the alignment of Helsinn with MEI Pharma on a Phase III effort. Celgene’s George Golumbeski has made no secret of his love for option deals, which give Celgene a front row seat on the R&D work it treasures most, without actually having to buy it.
Curiously, even after Celgene had ended the deal in May, Acetylon was still highlighting the relationship in its PR work.
Back in June, Acetylon spotlighted an analysis of 67 efficacy-evaluable patients enrolled in a study that combined its HDAC6 inhibitors with Celgene’s Pomalyst and dexamethasone. The data confirmed an overall response rate of 46%, a clinical benefit rate of 58%, a disease control rate of 82%, 9 months duration of response, and 7 months progression free survival. These data compared “favorably to mature historical data for the MM-002 and MM-003 trials of Pom and Dex alone which demonstrated 31-33% ORR, 7-8 months DOR, and 4 months median PFS.”
“I think there’s a little bit of downside risk if the big company doesn’t exercise the option,” CEO Walter Ogier told FierceBiotech back in 2013. “And there’s always reconsideration for what the purchase price would be. If you negotiate these arrangements correctly, you can minimize those risks.”
Endpoints asked Ogier for a comment on his next steps, but has yet to hear back.
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