Neil Kumar Credit: Endpoints

Bridge­Bio CEO Neil Ku­mar en­gi­neers a deal to reel back Ei­dos shares. Or is he re­al­ly hunt­ing a buy­out?

A year af­ter Bridge­Bio took its biotech sub­sidiary Ei­dos pub­lic at $17 a share $EI­DX, the moth­er com­pa­ny wants it all back. 

Bri­an Stephen­son

Bridge­Bio CFO Bri­an Stephen­son alert­ed in­vestors in an SEC fil­ing late last week that the San Fran­cis­co-based com­pa­ny pro­posed to buy out the in­vestors who snapped up a third of the eq­ui­ty, shoot­ing for a stock-for-stock deal.

Bridge­Bio, an um­brel­la drug de­vel­op­ment group co-found­ed by CEO Neil Ku­mar which owns 66.6% of Ei­dos, went pub­lic in a record-set­ting IPO a few weeks ago, pric­ing at $17 a share — but now trad­ing north of $26, even af­ter a 10% trim on Fri­day as the news of the fil­ing be­gan to per­co­late.

In a re­lease out this morn­ing, Bridge­Bio is propos­ing a swap: 1.3 shares of Bridge­Bio for every share of Ei­dos it doesn’t own. 

That has SVB Leerink’s Mani Foroohar won­der­ing if the re­al goal here isn’t spurring a bet­ter buy­out of­fer, with a big up­side.

While these steps are in line with our ex­pec­ta­tions and the Board car­ry­ing out its fidu­cia­ry re­spon­si­bil­i­ties, we do see a sce­nario in which a po­ten­tial com­pet­i­tive “over­bid” for the com­pa­ny could yield up­side be­yond the ~21% im­plied un­af­fect­ed pre­mi­um from BBIO’s ini­tial of­fer. As the own­er of a ma­jor­i­ty of EI­DX shares, BBIO would ben­e­fit fi­nan­cial­ly in this sce­nario, though BBIO (in an An­nex to to­day’s EI­DX dis­clo­sure) pro­claims no in­ter­est in sell­ing con­trol of EI­DX to an­oth­er en­ti­ty.

For its part, Bridge­Bio is sell­ing the prospect of bet­ter di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion. Af­ter all, not­ed Stephen­son, Ei­dos in­vestors shouldn’t be wait­ing for a buy­out.

As stock­hold­ers of Bridge­Bio, the Com­pa­ny’s stock­hold­ers would have the op­por­tu­ni­ty to ben­e­fit from and par­tic­i­pate in con­tin­ued up­side in Ei­dos while di­ver­si­fy­ing their in­vest­ment through ex­po­sure to the broad port­fo­lio of as­sets be­ing de­vel­oped by Bridge­Bio. This may be im­por­tant to cur­rent in­vestors, es­pe­cial­ly giv­en the dearth of M&A in the car­dio­vas­cu­lar area there­by lim­it­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for liq­uid­i­ty and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion.

Bridge­Bio now has a big uni­corn val­u­a­tion of $3.24 bil­lion, com­pared to $1.3 bil­lion for Ei­dos, which closed Fri­day at $35.17.

A spe­cial com­mit­tee with RA Cap­i­tal’s Ra­jeev Shah and William Lis will be re­spon­si­ble for han­dling the buy­out. Shah, a high-pro­file fig­ure in the biotech fi­nance scene, led the $64 mil­lion round for Ei­dos in the spring of 2018, work­ing di­rect­ly with Ku­mar. Shah gam­bled on a mid-stage drug for TTR amy­loi­do­sis, look­ing to take the field against a well-ad­vanced slate of ri­vals from Pfiz­er, Al­ny­lam and Io­n­is.

Lis is the ex-CEO at Por­to­la.

Head­shot: Bri­an Stephen­son, Linkedin

UP­DAT­ED: In a stun­ning turn­around, Bio­gen says that ad­u­canum­ab does work for Alzheimer's — af­ter dredg­ing da­ta for pos­i­tive out­comes

Biogen has confounded the biotech world one more time.

In a stunning about-face, the company says that a new analysis of an old dataset on aducanumab has restored its faith in the drug as a game-changer for Alzheimer’s and, after talking it over the FDA, they’ll now be filing for an approval of a drug that had been given up for dead.

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Vas Narasimhan. Getty Images

Failed PhI­II fe­vip­iprant tri­als pour more cold wa­ter on No­var­tis' block­buster R&D en­gine — and spread the chill to a high-pro­file biotech

Back in July, during an investor call where Novartis execs ran through an upbeat assessment of their Q2 performance, CEO Vas Narasimhan and development chief John Tsai were pressed to predict which of the two looming Phase III readouts — involving cardio drug Entresto and asthma therapy fevipiprant, respectively — had a higher likelihood of success. Tsai gave the PARAGON-HF study with Entresto minimally better odds, but Narasimhan emphasized that their strategy of giving fevipiprant to more severe patients gave them confidence.

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UP­DAT­ED: Clay Sie­gall’s $614M wa­ger on tu­ca­tinib pays off with solid­ly pos­i­tive piv­otal da­ta and a date with the FDA

Back at the beginning of 2018, Clay Siegall snagged a cancer drug called tucatinib with a $614 million cash deal to buy Cascadian. It paid off today with a solid set of mid-stage data for HER2 positive breast cancer that will in turn serve as the pivotal win Siegall needs to seek an accelerated approval in the push for a new triplet therapy.

And if all the cards keep falling in its favor, they’ll move from 1 drug on the market to 3 in 2020, which is shaping up as a landmark year as Seattle Genetics prepares for its 23rd anniversary on July 15.

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Take­da tees up $420M deal for celi­ac an­ti­dote, con­tin­u­ing R&D re­fo­cus

Sometime in the 1st century AD, a patient presented to Arataeus looking like a varicose ghost. He was “emaciated and atrophied, pale, feeble and incapable of performing any of his accustomed works,” the Greek physician wrote, with hollow temples and huge veins running all over his body.

A dysfunctional digestive system, Arataeus concluded – an imbalance he attributed to a “heat” deficiency in a system he and other Greeks regarded as functioning similarly to an oven – and coined a term: coeliac disease, after the Greek word for abdomen.

UP­DAT­ED: The FDA sets a reg­u­la­to­ry speed record, pro­vid­ing a snap OK for Ver­tex's break­through triplet for cys­tic fi­bro­sis

The FDA has approved Vertex’s new triplet for cystic fibrosis at a record-setting speed.

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Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin

Where are the in­ter­change­able biosim­i­lars?

In June 2017, Leah Christl, former biosimilar lead at FDA, told a conference in Chicago that interchangeable biosimilars were likely coming to the US market within two years.

And although no interchangeable biosimilar has been approved by FDA yet, and Christl has since moved on to Amgen, progress on interchangeable biosimilars has been slow in the intervening years.

Most recently, Boehringer Ingelheim announced that it has completed, as of last April, a switching study necessary for launching an interchangeable biosimilar for Humira (adalimumab), although the company did not offer any further details on the timing of its submission to FDA or whether there will be an advisory committee to review the data. Boehringer already has an adalimumab biosimilar approved by FDA, which it will launch in the US on 1 July 2023.

IM­brave150: Roche’s reg­u­la­to­ry crew plans a glob­al roll­out of Tecen­triq com­bo for liv­er can­cer as PhI­II scores a hit

Just weeks after Bristol-Myers Squibb defended its failed pivotal study pitting Opdivo against Nexavar in liver cancer, Roche says it’s beat the frontline challenge with a combination of their PD-L1 Tecentriq with Avastin. And now they’re rolling their regulatory teams in the US, Europe and China in search of a new approval — badly needed to boost a trailing franchise effort.
Given their breakthrough and Big Pharma status as well as the use of two approved drugs, FDA approval may well prove to be something of a formality. And the Chinese have been clear that they want new drugs for liver cancer, where lethal disease rates are particularly high.
Researchers at their big biotech sub, Genentech, say that the combo beat Bayer’s Nexavar on both progression-free survival as well as overall survival — the first advance in this field in more than a decade. We won’t get the breakdown in months of life gained, but it’s a big win for Roche, which has lagged far, far behind Keytruda and Opdivo, the dominant PD-1s that have captured the bulk of the checkpoint market so far.
Researchers recruited hepatocellular carcinoma — the most common form of liver cancer — patients for the IMbrave150 study who weren’t eligible for surgery ahead of any systemic treatment of the disease.
Roche has a fairly low bar to beat, with modest survival benefit for Nexavar, approved for this indication 12 years ago. But they also plan to offer a combo therapy that could have significantly less toxicity, offering patients a much easier treatment regimen.
Cowen’s Steven Scala recently sized up the importance of IMbrave150, noting:

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That $335M JV Bay­er set up on CRISPR/Cas9? They’re let­ting the biotech part­ner car­ry on

Bayer committed $300 million to set up a joint venture on CRISPR/Cas9 tech with CRISPR Therapeutics $CRSP. But they’re handing off control now to the smaller biotech while retaining a couple of opt-ins for programs nearing an IND.

Bayer $BAY made much of the fact that they were going all-in on gene editing when they did their deal 3 years ago with CRISPR Therapeutics, which pitched $35 million in on their end. This was the cornerstone of their plan to set up new JVs that could make some serious leap forwards in hot new R&D spaces. Now CRISPR will have full management control of Casebia as they pursue programs in hemophilia, ophthalmology and autoimmune diseases.
Samarth Kulkarni, the CEO at CRISPR, made it sound like a natural progression.

J&J's block­buster Ste­lara wins US ap­proval for ul­cer­a­tive col­i­tis

J&J’s Stelara, which is set to be in the top ten list of blockbusters come 2025, is now cleared by the FDA for use in ulcerative colitis (UC), an inflammatory disease of the large intestine.

The biologic targets interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-23 cytokines, which are known to play a key role in inflammatory and immune responses. Stelara, which generated about $4.7 billion in the first nine months of 2019, is a key player in the crowded marketplace of drugs to treat autoimmune disorders such as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. AbbVie’s star therapy, Humira, continues to dominate, despite its looming patent cliff in the United States, while others including J&J’s $JNJ own anti-IL23 Tremfya, Lilly’s $LLY anti-IL-17 Taltz and AbbVie’s $ABBV recently approved anti-IL-23 antibody Skyrizi carve out a slice of market share.