Biover­a­tiv ex­ecs haul in new for­tunes af­ter pa­tient­ly wait­ing for Sanofi to bid up its $11.6B ex­clu­sive buy­out

It took more than 8 months and a se­ries of sweet­ened of­fers, but Sanofi $SNY was able to close their $11.6 bil­lion deal to buy Biover­a­tiv with­out trig­ger­ing an auc­tion. And in the process they made a new set of biotech mil­lion­aires, with Biover­a­tiv CEO John Cox lead­ing the pack with a pay­out worth more than $85 mil­lion.

John Cox

Biover­a­tiv spelled out the slow-mov­ing dis­cus­sions in an SEC fil­ing to­day, not­ing that Sanofi’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives at Lazard made the first over­ture to Biover­a­tiv in­vestor and board mem­ber Alex Den­ner on May 8.

What fol­lowed was a well known chore­og­ra­phy in bio­phar­ma M&A, with the no­table ex­cep­tion that Sanofi pushed to make the deal talks ex­clu­sive in the last few weeks of their ne­go­ti­a­tions to pre­vent an­oth­er bid­der from step­ping in, hap­py to pay a pre­mi­um to make that hap­pen.

Why?

Pos­si­bly Sanofi’s M&A strat­e­gy was in­flu­enced af­ter it was aced out of the Medi­va­tion talks when Pfiz­er el­bowed its way in and pushed its way to the front of the line with a $14 bil­lion of­fer that the French phar­ma gi­ant was un­will­ing to beat. And Acte­lion went to J&J af­ter Sanofi tried to do the same thing, on­ly up­set­ting the man­age­ment with a clum­sy at­tempt to change the num­bers af­ter J&J had ini­tial­ly bowed out.

John Greene

This time, Sanofi moved slow­ly but sure­ly while keep­ing the doors locked to any out­side in­tru­sion at the 11th hour.

Af­ter the May 8 meet­ing, Biover­a­tiv did what every com­pa­ny does — it re­ject­ed Sanofi’s ini­tial, non­bind­ing of­fer of $90 a share that came on May 19.

Not in­ter­est­ed, said the Biover­a­tiv board.

A few months lat­er, on Sep­tem­ber 12, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Sanofi got the same an­swer to an­oth­er reach out. But on Oc­to­ber 20, Lazard’s rep was told that a deal might be pos­si­ble — but not at $90.

On No­vem­ber 3 came a non­bind­ing of­fer of $98.50, an 84% pre­mi­um.

In­ad­e­quate, re­spond­ed Biover­a­tiv, but it was good enough to get their at­ten­tion and start a se­ries of ex­changes and meet­ings.

On Jan­u­ary 3, Sanofi bumped the of­fer again, this time to $101.50.

Roge­rio Vi­val­di

Stay­ing pa­tient earned com­pa­ny ex­ecs a for­tune. In ad­di­tion to Cox’s pay­out, CFO John Greene earned a gold­en para­chute worth $18.5 mil­lion while COO Roge­rio Vi­val­di picked up $18.2 mil­lion.

The big win­ner on the board was Den­ner, whose Saris­sa Cap­i­tal came away with a $122 mil­lion pay­out for its shares.

Nick Leschly via Getty

UP­DAT­ED: Blue­bird shares sink as an­a­lysts puz­zle out $1.8M stick­er shock and an un­ex­pect­ed de­lay

Blue­bird bio $BLUE has un­veiled its price for the new­ly ap­proved gene ther­a­py Zyn­te­glo (Lenti­Glo­bin), which came as a big sur­prise. And it wasn’t the on­ly un­ex­pect­ed twist in to­day’s sto­ry.

With some an­a­lysts bet­ting on a $900,000 price for the β-tha­lassemia treat­ment in Eu­rope, where reg­u­la­tors pro­vid­ed a con­di­tion­al ear­ly OK, blue­bird CEO Nick Leschly said Fri­day morn­ing that the pa­tients who are suc­cess­ful­ly treat­ed with their drug over 5 years will be charged twice that — $1.8 mil­lion — on the con­ti­nent. That makes this drug the sec­ond most ex­pen­sive ther­a­py on the plan­et, just be­hind No­var­tis’ new­ly ap­proved Zol­gens­ma at $2.1 mil­lion, with an­a­lysts still wait­ing to see what kind of pre­mi­um can be had in the US.

Ted Love. HAVERFORD COLLEGE

Glob­al Blood Ther­a­peu­tics poised to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tion for ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval, with new piv­otal da­ta on its sick­le cell dis­ease drug

Global Blood Therapeutics is set to submit an application for accelerated approval in the second-half of this year, after unveiling fresh data from a late-stage trial that showed just over half the patients given the highest dose of its experimental sickle cell disease drug experienced a statistically significant improvement in oxygen-wielding hemoglobin, meeting the study's main goal.

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Gene ther­a­pies seize the top of the list of the most ex­pen­sive drugs on the plan­et — and that trend has just be­gun

Anyone looking for a few simple reasons why the gene therapy field has caught fire with the pharma giants need only look at the new list of the 10 most expensive therapies from GoodRx.

Two recently approved gene therapies sit atop this list, with Novartis’ Zolgensma crowned the king of the priciest drugs at $2.1 million. Right below is Luxturna, the $850,000 pioneer from Spark, which Roche is pushing hard to acquire as it adds a gene therapy group to the global mix.

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Bain’s biotech team has cre­at­ed a $1B-plus fund — with an eye to more Big Phar­ma spin­outs

One of the biggest investors to burst onto the biotech scene in recent years has re-upped with more than a billion dollars flowing into its second fund. And this next wave of bets will likely include more of the Big Pharma spinouts that highlighted their first 3 years in action.

Adam Koppel and Jeff Schwartz got the new life sciences fund at Bain Capital into gear in the spring of 2016, as they were putting together a $720 million fund with $600 million flowing in from external investors and the rest drawn from the Bain side of the equation. This time the external investors chipped in $900 million, with Bain coming in for roughly $180 million more.

They’re not done with Fund I, with plans to add a couple more deals to the 15 they’ve already posted. And once again, they’re estimating another 15 to 20 investments over a 3- to 5-year time horizon for Fund II.

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News­mak­ers at #EHA19: Re­gen­eron, Ar­Qule track progress on re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s close­ly-watched bis­pe­cif­ic con­tin­ues to ring up high re­sponse rates

Re­gen­eron’s high-pro­file bis­pe­cif­ic REGN1979 is back in the spot­light at the Eu­ro­pean Hema­tol­ogy As­so­ci­a­tion sci­en­tif­ic con­fab. And while the stel­lar num­bers we saw at ASH have erod­ed some­what as more blood can­cer pa­tients are eval­u­at­ed, the re­sponse rates for this CD3/CD20 drug re­main high.

A to­tal of 13 out of 14 fol­lic­u­lar lym­phomas re­spond­ed to the drug, a 93% ORR, down from 100% at the last read­out. In 10 out of 14, there was a com­plete re­sponse. In dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma the re­sponse rate was 57% among pa­tients treat­ed at the 80 mg to 160 mg dose range. They were all com­plete re­spons­es. And 2 of these Cars were for pa­tients who had failed CAR-T ther­a­py.

Neil Woodford, Woodford Investment Management via YouTube

Un­der siege, in­vest­ment man­ag­er Wood­ford faces an­oth­er in­vest­ment shock

Em­bat­tled UK fund man­ag­er Neil Wood­ford — who has con­tro­ver­sial­ly blocked in­vestors from pulling out from his flag­ship fund to stem the blood­let­ting, af­ter a slew of dis­ap­point­ed in­vestors fled fol­low­ing a se­ries of sour bets — is now pay­ing the price for his ac­tions via an in­vestor ex­o­dus on an­oth­er fund.

Har­g­reaves Lans­down, which has in the past sold and pro­mot­ed the Wood­ford funds via its re­tail in­vest­ment plat­form, has re­port­ed­ly with­drawn £45 mil­lion — its en­tire po­si­tion — from the in­vest­ment man­ag­er’s In­come Fo­cus Fund.

Search­ing for the next block­buster to fol­low Darza­lex, J&J finds a $150M an­ti-CD38 drug from part­ner Gen­mab

Now that J&J and Genmab have thrust Darzalex onto the regulatory orbit for first-line use in multiple myeloma, the partners are lining up a deal for a next-gen follow-on to the leading CD38 drug.


Janssen — J&J’s biotech unit — has its eyes on HexaBody-CD38, a preclinical compound generated on Genmab’s tech platform designed to make drugs more potent via hexamerization.


Genmab is footing the bill on studies in multiple myeloma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma; once it completes clinical proof of concept, Janssen has the option to license the drug for a $150 million exercise fee. There’s also $125 million worth of milestones in play.

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In a boost to Rit­ux­an fran­chise, Roche nabs quick ap­proval for po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin

Roche’s lat­est an­ti­body-drug con­ju­gate has crossed the FDA fin­ish line, gain­ing an ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval a full two months ahead of sched­ule.

Po­livy, or po­latuzum­ab ve­dotin, is a first-in-class drug tar­get­ing CD79b — a pro­tein promi­nent in B-cell non-Hodgkin lym­phoma. It will now be mar­ket­ed for dif­fuse large B-cell lym­phoma as part of a reg­i­men that al­so in­cludes the chemother­a­py ben­damus­tine and a ver­sion of rit­ux­imab (Rit­ux­an).

Ab­b­Vie touts new da­ta for Hu­mi­ra suc­ces­sor; Gilead inks dis­cov­ery deal

→ Ab­b­Vie is tout­ing new pos­i­tive da­ta com­par­ing their ag­ing block­buster Hu­mi­ra with their hoped-for block­buster upadac­i­tinib. Over 48 weeks a larg­er pro­por­tion of pa­tients tak­ing the ex­per­i­men­tal drug ex­pe­ri­enced clin­i­cal re­mis­sion than in the con­trol arm with Hu­mi­ra. Their drug brought in $20 bil­lion last year, top­ping the scales in the num­ber 1 slot.

→ Gilead has turned to Van­cou­ver-based Ab­Cellera for its lat­est dis­cov­ery deal. Ab­Cellera will use its know-how in “sin­gle-cell screen­ing of nat­ur­al im­mune sources” to find an­ti­body can­di­dates for Gilead to pur­sue in the in­fec­tious dis­ease field. The deal in­cludes an up­front and mile­stones.