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.

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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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

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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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.

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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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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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A low-pro­file biotech bests Re­gen­eron in high-pro­file patent suit

For nearly a decade now, the low-profile Cambridge biotech Kymab has been battling in US, UK, Japanese and Australian courts with the biotech behemoth Regeneron.

Regeneron has turned itself into a $70 billion company off of a platform of transgenically humanized mice they can use to make antibodies for anything from Ebola to colorectal cancer. The technology took decades and billions to build, 20 years from the company’s founding to the first approved drug. And the company guards and touts it zealously, breaking their production process down into various branded components — Velocimmune, Velocigene, Velocimouse and four other Velocis — and sometimes suing would-be copycats. In 2014, most notably, they sued two Pfizer-backed entities for patent infringement.