Deals

Celgene’s $710M deal on mongersen implodes as Phase III Crohn’s study flops

Celgene’s $710 million cash roll of the dice on the inflammatory bowel disease drug mongersen (GED-301) has come up snake eyes.

The big biotech $CELG announced Thursday evening that it is terminating the Phase III on Crohn’s after it failed to pass muster in an interim futility analysis. Another planned Phase III study is being scrapped, and the team there will make a final determination if there’s any future left for this drug after they complete an analysis of Phase II data on ulcerative colitis.

Celgene’s stock plunged 7% on the news, tearing out a $7 billion-plus chunk of its market cap.

Scott Smith, Celgene

Celgene COO Scott Smith presided over the brief last rites, saying that “while we are disappointed with the results of REVOLVE, we remain committed to advancing our portfolio of novel medicines for patients suffering from this disease and other inflammatory bowel disorders.”

Almost exactly three years ago to the day, the biotech spelled out promising mid-stage data for Crohn’s, explaining why Celgene’s then CEO (now executive chairman) Bob Hugin had committed to a deal worth up to $2.6 billion with the little known Irish company Nogra.

Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges wrote it off as an unfortunate outcome triggered by an inexperienced team of dealmakers at Celgene who rushed into this three years ago with way too much money up front. Notes Porges:

This disappointment is likely to cost the company up to $2bn in long-term revenue, and up to 4-5% in value; it is also a painful reminder of the costs of a “shots on goal” approach to business development, and the perils of heavily front-loaded investments into categories where the organization lacks technical and commercial expertise.

The company now will shift all of its focus to ozanimod after offering a peek at the Phase II results for Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis posted at the World Congress of Gastroenterology at ACG2017 in Orlando.

For Celgene, the mongersen deal helped illustrate its willingness to bet big on clinical-stage assets. Mongersen is the biotech’s most advanced experimental drug in its inflammation and immunology pipeline, where the company had high hopes for some blockbuster break outs.

This one proved an expensive failure.


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