A last-ditch ef­fort to de­rail Take­da’s $62B Shire buy­out goes down in flames

Backed by se­nior mem­bers of the found­ing fam­i­ly, the tra­di­tion­al­ists among Take­da’s in­vestors have made their last stand in the fight against re­mak­ing the 237-year-old com­pa­ny as a glob­al heavy­weight.

They lost.

Op­po­si­tion was ren­dered fu­tile as a large ma­jor­i­ty of the Japan­ese drug­mak­er’s share­hold­ers ul­ti­mate­ly agreed to sanc­tion the $62 bil­lion takeover of Britain’s rare dis­ease drug spe­cial­ist Shire.

The de­ci­sion came on Wednes­day as part of an ex­tra­or­di­nary gen­er­al meet­ing (EGM) of Take­da share­hold­ers, who were asked to vote on the deal that could ce­ment the biggest-ever ac­qui­si­tion of a Japan­ese com­pa­ny over­seas, and vault the com­bined en­ti­ty to one of the top 10 drug­mak­ers in the world, but al­so one sad­dled with a hefty debt load.

The vote fol­lows the rul­ing of the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion last month to al­low the deal to con­sum­mate on the ba­sis that Take­da will di­vest SHP647 so it can re­tain its block­buster drug En­tyvio to ame­lio­rate an­titrust con­cerns re­lat­ed to the over­lap in in­flam­ma­to­ry bow­el dis­ease treat­ments. The deal was struck in May un­der chief Christophe We­ber — the Japan­ese group’s first non-Japan­ese CEO — and has al­ready won the ap­proval of reg­u­la­tors in Japan, the Unit­ed States, Chi­na and Brazil.

Take­da is fi­nanc­ing the ac­qui­si­tion by is­su­ing new shares and a $30.9 bil­lion bridge loan. The deal is ex­pect­ed to close on Jan­u­ary 8th — smack in the mid­dle of the JPM con­fer­ence.

Take­da, whose rev­enue is shrink­ing as gener­ics eat in­to its busi­ness, has been forced to look else­where to rein­vig­o­rate its growth. Shire is an at­trac­tive propo­si­tion with its ar­se­nal of rare dis­ease drugs, how­ev­er its slate of treat­ments are not im­mune to com­pe­ti­tion ei­ther. Some Take­da share­hold­ers have op­posed the takeover on these grounds, say­ing the com­pa­ny will ul­ti­mate­ly have to in­vest fur­ther in home-grown ex­per­i­men­tal ther­a­pies, or tap in­to oth­er pipelines to stay com­pet­i­tive.

Shire is hold­ing its own share­hold­er meet­ing on Wednes­day.

Im­age: Christophe We­ber. AP IM­AGES

Tar­get­ing a Po­ten­tial Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of Cer­tain Can­cers with DNA Dam­age Re­sponse

Every individual’s DNA is unique, and because of this, every patient responds differently to disease and treatment. It is astonishing how four tiny building blocks of our DNA – A, T, C, G – dictate our health, disease, and how we age.

The tricky thing about DNA is that it is constantly exposed to damage by sources such as ultraviolet light, certain chemicals, toxins, and even natural biochemical processes inside our cells.¹ If ignored, DNA damage will accumulate in replicating cells, giving rise to mutations that can lead to premature aging, cancer, and other diseases.

Roivant par­lays a $450M chunk of eq­ui­ty in biotech buy­out, grab­bing a com­pu­ta­tion­al group to dri­ve dis­cov­ery work

New Roivant CEO Matt Gline has crafted an all-equity upfront deal to buy out a Boston-based biotech that has been toiling for several years now at building a supercomputing-based computational platform to design new drugs. And he’s adding it to the Erector set of science operations that are being built up to support their network of biotech subsidiaries with an eye to growing the pipeline in a play to create a new kind of pharma company.

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Ken Frazier, Merck CEO (Bess Adler/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

UP­DAT­ED: Mer­ck takes a swing at the IL-2 puz­zle­box with a $1.85B play for buzzy Pan­dion and its au­toim­mune hope­fuls

When Roger Perlmutter bid farewell to Merck late last year, the drugmaker perhaps best known now for sales giant Keytruda signaled its intent to take a swing at early-stage novelty with the appointment of discovery head Dean Li. Now, Merck is signing a decent-sized check to bring an IL-2 moonshot into the fold.

Merck will shell out roughly $1.85 billion for Pandion Pharmaceuticals, a biotech hoping to gin up regulatory T cells (Tregs) to treat a range of autoimmune disorders, the drugmaker said Thursday.

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Fol­low biotechs go­ing pub­lic with the End­points News IPO Track­er

The Endpoints News team is continuing to track IPO filings for 2021, and we’ve designed a new tracker page for the effort.

Check it out here: Biopharma IPOs 2021 from Endpoints News

You’ll be able to find all the biotechs that have filed and priced so far this year, sortable by quarter and listed by newest first. As of the time of publishing on Feb. 25, there have already been 16 biotechs debuting on Nasdaq so far this year, with an additional four having filed their S-1 paperwork.

Doug Ingram (file photo)

Why not? Sarep­ta’s third Duchenne MD drug sails to ac­cel­er­at­ed ap­proval

Sarepta may be running into some trouble with its next-gen gene therapy approach to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. But when it comes to antisense oligonucleotides, the well-trodden regulatory path is still leading straight to an accelerated approval for casimersen, now christened Amondys 45.

We just have to wait until 2024 to find out if it works.

Amondys 45’s approval was unceremonious, compared to its two older siblings. There was no controversy within the FDA over approving a drug based on a biomarker rather than clinical benefit, setting up a powerful precedent that still haunts acting FDA commissioner Janet Woodcock as biotech insiders weighed her potential permanent appointment; no drama like the FDA issuing a stunning rejection only to reverse its decision and hand out an OK four months later, which got more complicated after the scathing complete response letter was published; no anxious tea leaf reading or heated arguments from drug developers and patient advocates who were tired of having corticosteroids as their loved ones’ only (sometimes expensive) option.

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Steve Cutler, Icon CEO (Icon)

In the biggest CRO takeover in years, Icon doles out $12B for PRA Health Sci­ences to fo­cus on de­cen­tral­ized clin­i­cal work

Contract research M&A had a healthy run in recent years before recently petering out. But with the market ripe for a big buyout and the Covid-19 pandemic emphasizing the importance of decentralized trials, Wednesday saw a tectonic shift in the CRO world.

Icon, the Dublin-based CRO, will acquire PRA Health Sciences for $12 billion in a move that will shake up the highest rungs of a fragmented market. The merger would combine the 5th- and 6th-largest CROs by 2020 revenue, according to Icon, and the merger will set the newco up to be the second-largest global CRO behind only IQVIA.

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Roche and Genen­tech re­searchers plot $53M dis­cov­ery quest aimed at spark­ing a 'Holy moly' piv­ot in neu­ro R&D

Roche and Genentech have committed $53 million to back a 10-year quest aimed at going back to the drawing board to use new technology and fresh scientific insights to generate a pipeline of drugs for neurological diseases.

Researchers from both Roche and its big South San Francisco hub — mixing teams from gRED and pRED this time — will mix it up with the scientists drawn together for the Weill Neurohub — formed in 2019 as a joint research partnership involving UCSF, Berkeley and the University of Washington — in an exploration of the field to develop new therapies for some of the toughest diseases in drug R&D: Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and autism.

S&P ex­pects steady ero­sion in Big Phar­ma's cred­it pro­file in 2021 as new M&A deals roll in — but don't un­der­es­ti­mate their un­der­ly­ing strength

S&P Global has taken a look at the dominant forces shaping the pharma market and come to the conclusion that there will be more downgrades than upgrades in 2021 — the 8th straight year of steady decline.

But it’s not all bad news. Some things are looking up, and there’s still plenty of money to be made in an industry that enjoys a 30% to 40% profit margin, once you factor in steep R&D expenses.

With dust set­tled on ac­tivist at­tack, Lau­rence Coop­er leaves Zio­pharm to a new board

Laurence Cooper has done his part.

In the five years since he left a tenured position at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center to become CEO of Boston-based Ziopharm, he’s steered the small-cap immunotherapy player through patient deaths in trials, clinical holds, short attacks and, most recently, an activist attack on the board.

So when the company has “fantastic news” like an IND clearance for a TCR T cell therapy program, he’s ready to pass on the baton.

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