Deals

J&J sets out to build a new R&D group after a $1B biotech christening

A sizable new biotech was born today, complete with a public listing, pipeline, $1 billion in the bank and experienced management team all in place. And they have a Big Pharma partner/investor in their corner as well, which will now start growing up a new pipeline of its own.

The biotech is Idorsia, which started trading on the Swiss exchange at 10 Swiss francs and then shot up 30%. And of course the pharma partner is J&J, which has now formally finished the acquisition of Actelion for $30 billion, spawning a new business unit — its sixth — with plans to start building out its late-stage work in pulmonary arterial hypertension with a fully fledged discovery and early research team working on next-gen products.

“The [drug] discovery people have not come across, but we have some people with deep knowledge of PAH that can act as a nucleus,” unit chief Jane Griffiths tells the Wall Street Journal. “Or we may need to augment it.”

The deal was made possible by Sanofi, which apparently landed crosswise with Actelion’s prickly CEO, Jean-Paul Clozel. Clozel ended up preferring the J&J team in the auction, which left them with about a billion dollars to help keep the company well-funded as he transitions it back to an R&D-only company.

J&J holds 10% of Indorsia’s shares {SIX: $IDIA}, with an option to boost that to 32%. J&J has an option on ACT-132577, which just reported Phase II data, as well as the antibiotic cadazolid, which just scored a disappointing 1 win/1 loss in a Phase III matchup with vancomycin.


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