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.

Is a pow­er­house Mer­ck team prepar­ing to leap past Roche — and leave Gilead and Bris­tol My­ers be­hind — in the race to TIG­IT dom­i­na­tion?

Roche caused quite a stir at ASCO with its first look at some positive — but not so impressive — data for their combination of Tecentriq with their anti-TIGIT drug tiragolumab. But some analysts believe that Merck is positioned to make a bid — soon — for the lead in the race to a second-wave combo immuno-oncology approach with its own ambitious early-stage program tied to a dominant Keytruda.

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BiTE® Plat­form and the Evo­lu­tion To­ward Off-The-Shelf Im­muno-On­col­o­gy Ap­proach­es

Despite rapid advances in the field of immuno-oncology that have transformed the cancer treatment landscape, many cancer patients are still left behind.1,2 Not every person has access to innovative therapies designed specifically to treat his or her disease. Many currently available immuno-oncology-based approaches and chemotherapies have brought long-term benefits to some patients — but many patients still need other therapeutic options.3

Pfiz­er’s Doug Gior­dano has $500M — and some ad­vice — to of­fer a cer­tain breed of 'break­through' biotech

So let’s say you’re running a cutting-edge, clinical-stage biotech, probably public, but not necessarily so, which could see some big advantages teaming up with some marquee researchers, picking up say $50 million to $75 million dollars in a non-threatening minority equity investment that could take you to the next level.

Doug Giordano might have some thoughts on how that could work out.

The SVP of business development at the pharma giant has helped forge a new fund called the Pfizer Breakthrough Growth Initiative. And he has $500 million of Pfizer’s money to put behind 7 to 10 — or so — biotech stocks that fit that general description.

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Stephen Isaacs, Aduro president and CEO (Aduro)

Once a high fly­er, a stag­ger­ing Aduro is auc­tion­ing off most of the pipeline as CEO Stephen Isaacs hands off the shell to new own­ers

After a drumbeat of failure, setbacks and reorganizations over the last few years, Aduro CEO Stephen Isaacs is handing over his largely gutted-out shell of a public company to another biotech company and putting up some questionable assets in a going-out-of-business sale.

Isaacs —who forged a string of high-profile Big Pharma deals along the way — has wrapped a 13-year run at the biotech with one program for kidney disease going to the new owners at Chinook Therapeutics. A host of once-heralded assets like their STING agonist program partnered with Novartis (which dumped their work on ADU-S100 after looking over weak clinical results), the Lilly-allied cGAS-STING inhibitor program and the anti-CD27 program out-licensed to Merck will all be posted for auction under a strategic review process.

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President Donald Trump (left) and Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed (Alex Brandon, AP Images)

White House names fi­nal­ists for Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed — with 5 ex­pect­ed names and one no­table omis­sion

A month after word first broke of the Trump Administration’s plan to rapidly accelerate the development and production of a Covid-19 vaccine, the White House has selected the five vaccine candidates they consider most likely to succeed, The New York Times reported.

Most of the names in the plan, known as Operation Warp Speed, will come as little surprise to those who have watched the last four months of vaccine developments: Moderna, which was the first vaccine to reach humans and is now the furthest along of any US effort; J&J, which has not gone into trials but received around $500 million in funding from BARDA earlier this year; the joint AstraZeneca-Oxford venture which was granted $1.2 billion from BARDA two weeks ago; Pfizer, which has been working with the mRNA biotech BioNTech; and Merck, which just entered the race and expects to put their two vaccine candidates into humans later this year.

UP­DAT­ED: Es­ti­mat­ing a US price tag of $5K per course, remde­sivir is set to make bil­lions for Gilead, says key an­a­lyst

Data on remdesivir — the first drug shown to benefit Covid-19 patients in a randomized, controlled trial setting — may be murky, but its maker Gilead could reap billions from the sales of the failed Ebola therapy, according to an estimate by a prominent Wall Street analyst. However, the forecast, which is based on a $5,000-per-course US price tag, triggered the ire of one top drug price expert.

Credit: AP Images

Covid-19 roundup: BAR­DA sup­ports Op­er­a­tion Warp Speed with big $628M con­tract to ser­vice Amer­i­ca's vac­cine pro­duc­tion needs

Another BARDA contract designed to service America’s Covid-19 vaccine needs has been deployed.

The White House-led initiative designed to bankroll development to bring a vaccine to the American public by this fall — Operation Warp Speed — has via BARDA handed a meaty contract to the maker of an FDA-licensed anthrax vaccine to open up its manufacturing apparatus to shore up production of Covid-19 vaccines.

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FDA de­lays de­ci­sion on No­var­tis’ po­ten­tial block­buster MS drug, wip­ing away pri­or­i­ty re­view

So much for a speedy review.

In February, Novartis announced that an application for their much-touted multiple sclerosis drug ofatumumab had been accepted and, with the drug company cashing in on one of their priority review vouchers, the agency was due for a decision by June.

But with June less than 48 hours old, Novartis announced the agency has extended their review, pushing back the timeline for approval or rejection to September. The Swiss pharma filed the application in December, meaning their new schedule will be nearly in line with the standard 10-month window period had they not used the priority voucher.

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Fangliang Zhang (Imaginechina via AP Images)

The big mon­ey: Poised to make drug R&D his­to­ry, a Chi­na biotech un­veils uni­corn rac­ing am­bi­tions in a bid to raise $350M-plus on Nas­daq

Almost exactly three years after Shanghai-based Legend came out of nowhere to steal the show at ASCO with jaw-dropping data on their BCMA-targeted CAR-T for multiple myeloma, the little player with Big Pharma connections is taking a giant step toward making it big on Wall Street. And this time they want to seal the deal on a global rep after staking out a unicorn valuation in what’s turned out to be a bull market for biotech IPOs — in the middle of a pandemic.

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