In $1B buy­out, Catal­ent takes on gum­my com­pa­ny to jump in­to a boom­ing mar­ket

Few CD­MOs have been quite as ac­tive as Catal­ent in the last 18 months, as the com­pa­ny has an­nounced merg­ers, ac­qui­si­tions and ex­pan­sions al­most week­ly. The com­pa­ny’s next big move is a bit dif­fer­ent, as it an­nounced a dive in­to gum­my vi­t­a­mins on Mon­day.

The New Jer­sey-based com­pa­ny will buy Bet­tera Hold­ings and its four US man­u­fac­tur­ing sites for $1 bil­lion, the com­pa­ny said Mon­day.

Bet­tera spe­cial­izes in sup­ple­ments, and is backed by High­lander Part­ners, a pri­vate eq­ui­ty firm. The com­pa­ny is based in Plano, TX and makes gum­my, soft-chew and lozenge vi­t­a­mins. The deal al­lows Catal­ent to ex­pand its soft­gel man­u­fac­tur­ing as the mar­ket grows.

Catal­ent will pay for the deal through a com­bi­na­tion of cash, cred­it and debt fi­nanc­ing, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment.

Aris Gen­na­dios

“This ac­qui­si­tion is a key strate­gic move for Catal­ent’s Con­sumer Health busi­ness, where our lead­er­ship in man­u­fac­tur­ing tech­nolo­gies and for­mu­la­tion can of­fer cus­tomers more prod­uct de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and add man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pac­i­ty in this dy­nam­ic and fast-grow­ing seg­ment,” Catal­ent’s Aris Gen­na­dios said in pre­pared re­marks. Gen­na­dios is the com­pa­ny’s pres­i­dent of soft­gel and oral tech­nolo­gies.

The com­pa­ny has about 500 em­ploy­ees, and its 2020 sales to­taled around $150 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to The Wall Street Jour­nal. Those sales are pre­dict­ed to grow an­oth­er 20% this year. That pre­dic­tion comes af­ter Al­lied Mar­ket Re­search pub­lished a re­port stat­ing that gum­my vi­t­a­mins are go­ing through a surge in pop­u­lar­i­ty, due to the smoother tex­ture and dif­fi­cul­ty many ex­pe­ri­ence swal­low­ing pills. A Jan­u­ary WSJ sto­ry drew an ob­vi­ous line: a gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren who had tak­en gum­my vi­t­a­mins had grown up. That, cou­pled with the col­ors and fla­vors, of­fers ap­peal to Gen Z. In 2018, that mar­ket was val­ued around $5.7 bil­lion. It’s pro­ject­ed to be worth more than $9 bil­lion by 2026.

“In­tro­duc­tion of gelatin free, pro­bi­ot­ic en­riched, and non GMO gum­my vi­t­a­mins is an­tic­i­pat­ed to cre­ate lu­cra­tive op­por­tu­ni­ties for the mar­ket ex­pan­sion in the up­com­ing fu­ture,” the re­port pub­lished in March 2020 says.

Bet­tera was cre­at­ed with the goal of cre­at­ing a more “en­joy­able and con­ve­nient” form of nu­tri­tion­al sup­ple­ments, High­lander Part­ners CEO Jeff Hull said in a press re­lease.

Jeff Hull

“Catal­ent has long had a sim­i­lar vi­sion, com­bined with spe­cial­ized ex­per­tise, a his­to­ry of suc­cess­ful in­no­va­tion, a wide range of of­fer­ings, and the re­sources to help Bet­tera con­tin­ue to grow and meet cus­tomer and con­sumer needs,” he said. “To­geth­er, Catal­ent Con­sumer Health and Bet­tera are well po­si­tioned to con­tin­ue Bet­tera’s mis­sion of serv­ing con­sumers and par­tic­i­pat­ing in the long-term growth of the self-care mar­ket.”

Bet­tera’s four man­u­fac­tur­ing sites are in In­di­ana, Cal­i­for­nia, Chan­til­ly, Vir­ginia and New Jer­sey.

In Au­gust, Catal­ent an­nounced it would col­lab­o­rate with Dis­per­Sol to man­u­fac­ture on­col­o­gy drugs. Be­fore that Catal­ent ac­quired Ger­man cell and gene ther­a­py spe­cial­ist Rhein­Cell Ther­a­peu­tics, and inked con­tracts with Den­ver cannabid­i­ols com­pa­ny JOS Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and Austin, TX-area pre­clin­i­cal com­pa­ny Cur­tana Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, for which it will make CT-170 — a drug ther­a­py for glioblas­toma, medul­loblas­toma and oth­er brain can­cers. All of this hap­pened in a lit­tle over a month. It al­so will up­grade its new fa­cil­i­ty in Anag­ni, Italy with two new 2,000-liter sin­gle-use biore­ac­tors with man­u­fac­tur­ing suites.

Health­care Dis­par­i­ties and Sick­le Cell Dis­ease

In the complicated U.S. healthcare system, navigating a serious illness such as cancer or heart disease can be remarkably challenging for patients and caregivers. When that illness is classified as a rare disease, those challenges can become even more acute. And when that rare disease occurs in a population that experiences health disparities, such as people with sickle cell disease (SCD) who are primarily Black and Latino, challenges can become almost insurmountable.

David Meek, new Mirati CEO (Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Fresh off Fer­Gene's melt­down, David Meek takes over at Mi­rati with lead KRAS drug rac­ing to an ap­proval

In the insular world of biotech, a spectacular failure can sometimes stay on any executive’s record for a long time. But for David Meek, the man at the helm of FerGene’s recent implosion, two questionable exits made way for what could be an excellent rebound.

Meek, most recently FerGene’s CEO and a past head at Ipsen, has become CEO at Mirati Therapeutics, taking the reins from founding CEO Charles Baum, who will step over into the role of president and head of R&D, according to a release.

Jacob Van Naarden (Eli Lilly)

Ex­clu­sives: Eli Lil­ly out to crash the megablock­buster PD-(L)1 par­ty with 'dis­rup­tive' pric­ing; re­veals can­cer biotech buy­out

It’s taken 7 years, but Eli Lilly is promising to finally start hammering the small and affluent PD-(L)1 club with a “disruptive” pricing strategy for their checkpoint therapy allied with China’s Innovent.

Lilly in-licensed global rights to sintilimab a year ago, building on the China alliance they have with Innovent. That cost the pharma giant $200 million in cash upfront, which they plan to capitalize on now with a long-awaited plan to bust up the high-price market in lung cancer and other cancers that have created a market worth tens of billions of dollars.

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Jay Bradner (Jeff Rumans for Endpoints News)

Div­ing deep­er in­to in­her­it­ed reti­nal dis­or­ders, No­var­tis gob­bles up an­oth­er bite-sized op­to­ge­net­ics biotech

Right about a year ago, a Novartis team led by Jay Bradner and Cynthia Grosskreutz at NIBR swooped in to scoop up a Cambridge, MA-based opthalmology gene therapy company called Vedere. Their focus was on a rather narrow market niche: inherited retinal dystrophies that include a wide range of genetic retinal disorders marked by the loss of photoreceptor cells and progressive vision loss.

But that was just the first deal that whet their appetite.

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FDA hands ac­cel­er­at­ed nod to Seagen, Gen­mab's so­lo ADC in cer­vi­cal can­cer, but com­bo stud­ies look even more promis­ing

Biopharma’s resident antibody-drug conjugate expert Seagen has scored a clutch of oncology approvals in recent years, finding gold in what are known as “third-gen” ADCs. Now, another of their partnered conjugates is ready for prime time.

The FDA on Monday handed an accelerated approval to Seagen and Genmab’s Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin-tftv, or “TV”) in second-line patients with recurrent or metastatic cervical cancer who previously progressed after chemotherapy rather than PD-(L)1 systemic therapy, the companies said in a release.

Dave Lennon, former president of Novartis Gene Therapies

Zol­gens­ma patent spat brews be­tween No­var­tis and Re­genxbio as top No­var­tis gene ther­a­py ex­ec de­parts

Regenxbio, a small licensor of gene therapy viral vectors spun out from the University of Pennsylvania, is now finding itself in the middle of some major league patent fights.

In addition to a patent suit with Sarepta Therapeutics from last September, Novartis, is now trying to push its smaller partner out of the way. The Swiss biopharma licensed Regenxbio’s AAV9 vector for its $2.1 million spinal muscular atrophy therapy Zolgensma.

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Volker Wagner (L) and Jeff Legos

As Bay­er, No­var­tis stack up their ra­dio­phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal da­ta at #ES­MO21, a key de­bate takes shape

Ten years ago, a small Norwegian biotech by the name of Algeta showed up at ESMO — then the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference 2011 — and declared that its Bayer-partnered targeted radionuclide therapy, radium-223 chloride, boosted the overall survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients with symptomatic bone metastases.

In a Phase III study dubbed ALSYMPCA, patients who were treated with radium-223 chloride lived a median of 14 months compared to 11.2 months. The FDA would stamp an approval on it based on those data two years later, after Bayer snapped up Algeta and christened the drug Xofigo.

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Rafaèle Tordjman (Jeito Capital)

Con­ti­nu­ity and di­ver­si­ty: Rafaèle Tord­j­man's women-led VC firm tops out first fund at $630M

For a first-time fund, Jeito Capital talks a lot about continuity.

Rafaèle Tordjman had spotlighted that concept ever since she started building the firm in 2018, promising to go the extra mile(s) with biotech entrepreneurs while pushing them to reach patients faster.

Coincidentally, the lack of continuity was one of the sore spots listed in a report about the European healthcare sector published that same year by the European Investment Bank — whose fund is one of the LPs, alongside the American pension fund Teacher Retirement System of Texas and Singapore’s Temasek, to help Jeito close its first fund at $630 million (€534 million). As previously reported, Sanofi had chimed in €50 million, marking its first investment in a French life sciences fund.

Mi­rati tri­umphs again in KRAS-mu­tat­ed lung can­cer with a close­ly watched FDA fil­ing now in the cards

After a busy weekend at #ESMO21, which included a big readout for its KRAS drug adagrasib in colon cancer, Mirati Therapeutics is ready to keep the pressure on competitor Amgen with lung cancer data that will undergird an upcoming filing.

In topline results from a Phase II cohort of its KRYSTAL-1 study, adagrasib posted a response rate of 43% in second-line-or-later patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer containing a KRAS-G12C mutation, Mirati said Monday.