Am­gen of­fers to swal­low Den­mark-based drug dis­cov­ery part­ner in $167M deal

Am­gen is of­fer­ing to buy its Copen­hagen-based part­ner Nuevo­lu­tion — pop­u­lar with Big Phar­ma leagues for its drug dis­cov­ery en­gine — for about $167 mil­lion.

Nuevo­lu­tion first tied up with the large US biotech in 2016 to work on find­ing fresh can­cer and neu­ro­science drugs for Am­gen, in a deal that made it el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive up to $410 mil­lion in de­vel­op­men­tal mile­stones for any ther­a­py that makes it across the fin­ish line. In 2018, Am­gen opt­ed-in on two pro­grammes and is now cov­er­ing de­vel­op­ment costs, and can ex­er­cis­es its op­tion to li­cense the can­di­dates.

Alex Haahr Gou­li­aev Nuevo­lu­tion

Found­ed in 2001, Nuevo­lu­tion is fo­cused on small mol­e­cule drug dis­cov­ery us­ing its plat­form Chemet­ics, which has been en­dorsed by an ar­ray of col­lab­o­ra­tions, in­clud­ing Am­gen, Almi­rall and J&J. The cap­i­tal from these al­liances — which has added up to SEK 530 mil­lion ($55 mil­lion) this far, ac­cord­ing to Edi­son an­a­lysts — is fu­el­ing the de­vel­op­ment of Nuevo­lu­tion’s in-house ar­se­nal of pre­clin­i­cal drugs. In 2015, the com­pa­ny took it­self pub­lic on the Swedish bourse with a small, but up­sized, IPO that added $29.5 mil­lion to its cof­fers.

On Wednes­day, Am­gen $AMGN of­fered SEK 32.50 in cash per Nuevo­lu­tion share — a pre­mi­um of 169% to the Dan­ish com­pa­ny’s Tues­day clos­ing — which trans­lates to ap­prox­i­mate­ly SEK 1,610 mil­lion, or $167 mil­lion, al­to­geth­er.

Nuevo­lu­tion’s board of di­rec­tors unan­i­mous­ly rec­om­mend­ed that the com­pa­ny’s share­hold­ers ac­cept the of­fer, which is ex­pect­ed to close on Ju­ly 4. The three largest share­hold­ers in Nuevo­lu­tion (Sun­stone, Skan­di­naviska En­skil­da Banken AB and In­dus­tri­fonden) — rep­re­sent­ing a com­bined 59% of the stock and votes in Nuevo­lu­tion — have agreed to ac­cept the of­fer, on the con­di­tion that Am­gen’s of­fer is de­clared un­con­di­tion­al not lat­er than 1 Sep­tem­ber 2019, the part­ners said in their sep­a­rate re­leas­es.

Am­gen has al­so sweet­ened the deal by of­fer­ing Nuevo­lu­tion’s full-time em­ploy­ees a “re­ten­tion” deal to in­cen­tivize them to re­main with the com­pa­ny fol­low­ing the po­ten­tial takeover. The US drug­mak­er has al­so pledged to nei­ther al­ter the com­po­si­tion of Nuevo­lu­tion’s man­age­ment team nor the lo­ca­tions it cur­rent­ly works in.

His­tor­i­cal­ly, Am­gen has reaped about half its rev­enue from its in­ter­nal drug dis­cov­ery ef­fort, while the re­main­der em­anat­ed from the pur­chase of ex­ter­nal drugs or drug­mak­ers, and Am­gen ex­pects this prac­tice to con­tin­ue, Cowen’s Yaron Wer­ber wrote in a note. “We en­vi­sion that deal ac­tiv­i­ty will be fo­cused on on­col­o­gy and in­flam­ma­tion and to­day’s an­nounce­ment…is a step in that di­rec­tion.”

Giv­en the 2017 tax re­form, Am­gen al­so has about $26 bil­lion in its cof­fers, which it can use to go shop­ping. The big Cal­i­for­nia-based biotech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny has sug­gest­ed there are more deals in the ear­ly stages at at­trac­tive val­u­a­tions, ver­sus lat­er stages, which tend to be over­priced based on risk vs re­turn, Wer­ber said.

Brian Kaspar. AveXis via Twitter

AveX­is sci­en­tif­ic founder fires back at No­var­tis CEO Vas Narasimhan, 'cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly de­nies any wrong­do­ing'

Brian Kaspar’s head was among the first to roll at Novartis after company execs became aware of the fact that manipulated data had been included in its application for Zolgensma, now the world’s most expensive therapy.

But in his first public response, the scientific founder at AveXis — acquired by Novartis for $8.7 billion — is firing back. And he says that not only was he not involved in any wrongdoing, he’s ready to defend his name as needed.

I reached out to Brian Kaspar after Novartis put out word that he and his brother Allen had been axed in mid-May, two months after the company became aware of the allegations related to manipulated data. His response came back through his attorneys.

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We­bi­nar: Re­al World End­points — the brave new world com­ing in build­ing fran­chise ther­a­pies

Several biopharma companies have been working on expanding drug labels through the use of real world endpoints, combing through the data to find evidence of a drug’s efficacy for particular indications. But we’ve just begun. Real World Evidence is becoming an important part of every clinical development plan, in the soup-through-nuts approach used in building franchises.

I’ve recruited a panel of 3 top experts in the field — the first in a series of premium webinars — to look at the practical realities governing what can be done today, and where this is headed over the next few years, at the prodding of the FDA.

ZHEN SU — Merck Serono’s Senior Vice President and Global Head of Oncology

ELLIOTT LEVY — Amgen’s Senior Vice President of Global Development

CHRIS BOSHOFF — Pfizer Oncology’s Chief Development Officer

A premium subscription to Endpoints News is required to attend this webinar. Please upgrade to either an Insider or Enterprise plan for access. Already have Endpoints Premium? Please sign-in below. You can contact our Subscriptions team at with any issues.

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Video: Putting the AI in R&D — with Badhri Srini­vasan, Tony Wood, Rosana Kapeller, Hugo Ceule­mans, Saurabh Sa­ha and Shoibal Dat­ta

During BIO this year, I had a chance to moderate a panel among some of the top tech experts in biopharma on their real-world use of artificial intelligence in R&D. There’s been a lot said about the potential of AI, but I wanted to explore more about what some of the larger players are actually doing with this technology today, and how they see it advancing in the future. It was a fascinating exchange, which you can see here. The transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity. — John Carroll

Ted Ashburn. Oncorus

Cowen, Per­cep­tive lead $79.5M Se­ries B for 's­tand­out' biotech shep­herd­ing on­colyt­ic virus to clin­ic

As several Big Pharma players secure biotech partners in the oncolytic virus space for new immuno-oncology combos, Cowen and Perceptive Advisors have come out with their own bet on a startup that promises to shine.

The marquee investors are joining MPM, Deerfield, Celgene, Astellas, Arkin and UBS in backing the drug developer, Oncorus, which will now deploy the $79.5 million in Series B cash toward clinical development of its lead program. Other new investors include Surveyor Capital, Sphera Funds, IMM Investment, QUAD Investment Management, UTC Investment, SV Investment Corp and Shinhan Investment-Private Equity, the last five of which are Korean-based funds.

Fu­til­i­ty analy­sis au­gurs de­feat in piv­otal tri­al test­ing of Nu­Cana's lead drug in metasta­t­ic pan­cre­at­ic can­cer

Nearly two years after making its public debut, UK-based NuCana’s mission to make chemotherapies more potent and safer was dealt a blow, after a pivotal study testing its lead experimental drug halted enrollment in a hard-to-treat advanced form of cancer, following a futility analysis.

The drug, Acelarin, is being evaluated for use in metastatic pancreatic cancer patients who were not considered suitable for combination chemotherapy. In the late-stage ACELARATE study — which compared the experimental drug against the chemotherapy gemcitabine — 200 patients had been enrolled by the sponsor, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, before an analysis from an independent safety and data monitoring panel suggested the study’s main goal would not be met.

As­traZeneca’s Imfinzi/treme com­bo strikes out — again — in lung can­cer. Is it time for last rites?

AstraZeneca bet big on the future of their PD-L1 Imfinzi combined with the experimental CTLA-4 drug tremelimumab. But once again it’s gone down to defeat in a major Phase III study — while adding damage to the theory involving targeting cancer with a high tumor mutational burden.

Early Wednesday the pharma giant announced that their NEPTUNE study had failed, with the combination unable to beat standard chemo at overall survival in high TMB cases of advanced non-small cell lung cancer. We won’t get hard data until later in the year, but the drumbeat of failures will call into question what — if any — future this combination can have left.

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UP­DAT­ED: Pay­back? An­a­lysts say Sarep­ta was blind­sided by an FDA re­jec­tion dri­ven by reg­u­la­to­ry re­venge

In one of the least anticipated moves of the year, the FDA has rejected Sarepta’s application for an accelerated approval of its Duchenne MD drug golodirsen after fretting over safety issues.

In a statement that arrived after the bell on Monday, Sarepta explained the CRL, saying:

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Levi Garraway. Broad Institute via Youtube

Roche raids Eli Lil­ly for its next chief med­ical of­fi­cer as San­dra Horn­ing plans to step down

We found out Monday morning where Levi Garraway was headed after he left Eli Lilly as head of oncology R&D a few days ago. Roche named Garraway as their new chief medical officer, replacing Sandra Horning, who they say is retiring from the company.

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Af­ter a posse of Wall Street an­a­lysts pre­dict a like­ly new win for Sarep­ta, we're down to the wire on a crit­i­cal FDA de­ci­sion

As Bloomberg notes, most of the Wall Street analysts that cover Sarepta $SRPT are an upbeat bunch, ready to cheer on the team when it comes to their Duchenne MD drugs, or offer explanations when an odd setback occurs — as happened recently with a safety signal that was ‘erroneously’ reported last week.

Ritu Baral Cowen
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