M&A

Eli Lilly nabs CoLucid and a PhIII migraine drug in $960M buyout

David Ricks, Lilly

Eli Lilly’s new CEO has pulled off his first M&A deal.

The pharma giant $LLY is buying CoLucid $CLCD for $960 million, adding some pain meds to the pipeline, including a migraine program now in late-stage development.

The object of Lilly’s affection is lasmiditan, an oral 5-HT agonist that was originally developed by Lilly and then out-licensed to CoLucid in 2005. That program joins Lilly’s Phase III migraine drug galcanezumab — a CGRP therapy in a crowded field of players — and a collaboration the pharma giant has with Pfizer on tanezumab, an NGF drug.

Lilly is paying $46.50 a share, a relatively modest 33% premium over yesterday’s $34.90 close. The stock jumped accordingly this morning.

Shares of CoLucid rocketed up last fall, after its investigators reported that their drug scored on the primary as well as key secondary endpoints in a late-stage study. The primary endpoint tracked patients’ experience in the two hours after taking the drug, with the 100 mg and 200 mg dosing arms being pain-free at roughly twice the 15% placebo response rate. About a third of all the patients, though, were washed out after failing to qualify for the modified ITT group.

Lilly’s deal marks the arrival of David Ricks as the new CEO, who made it clear early on that he planned to pick up the tempo at the Indianapolis-based company. Lilly has done a few deals along the way, allying itself with AstraZeneca, Pfizer and others. But it’s been a rare player at the bargaining table. Ricks is unlikely to go gangbusters, but the CoLucid pact clearly signals a bigger appetite, particularly in the wake of solanezumab’s latest flop for Alzheimer’s.

Overall 2016 proved fairly disappointing on the M&A front in biopharma. There’s been a string of new deals to start the year, though, spurring hopes that plenty of pent-up demand at companies like Gilead, Biogen, Sanofi and others will fuel a surge of acquisitions in 2017. The numbers have been relatively small so far, but it’s still early in the year.


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