No­to­ri­ous ac­tivist in­vestor Carl Ic­ahn buys small stake in Al­ler­gan

Ac­tivist in­vestor Carl Ic­ahn has tak­en a small stake in Al­ler­gan, join­ing a grow­ing list of weighty share­hold­ers who could in­flu­ence the com­pa­ny’s strat­e­gy at a time when in­vestors are push­ing for changes.

With com­pe­ti­tion edg­ing in on its two top sell­ers — Botox and Resta­sis — Al­ler­gan $AGN has strug­gled to ap­pease its share­hold­ers with a plan of ac­tion. The com­pa­ny’s ef­fort to pro­tect its Resta­sis IP through the con­tro­ver­sial — and ul­ti­mate­ly failed — trib­al li­cens­ing strat­e­gy didn’t help mat­ters.

Brent Saun­ders

We don’t know the size of Ic­ahn’s stake, or what his plans might be for the com­pa­ny. But we do know Ic­ahn has been rather friend­ly in the past to Al­ler­gan CEO Brent Saun­ders, push­ing for him in 2013 to be­come CEO of For­est Lab­o­ra­to­ries (which through merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions be­came Al­ler­gan).

Top share­hold­ers are look­ing for ac­tivist in­vestors to make some changes at the Dublin-based drug­mak­er, Bloomberg, which first re­port­ed the news, re­ports, cit­ing un­named sources “fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter.” In ad­di­tion to Ic­ahn, ac­tivist in­vestor Alex Den­ner at Saris­sa Cap­i­tal al­so has a stake in Al­ler­gan. Den­ner is known for be­ing Ic­ahn’s for­mer pro­tégé and for his his­to­ry of spurring ac­qui­si­tions at com­pa­nies in which he in­vests. His stake in Al­ler­gan is no­table even though its small, con­sid­er­ing Saris­sa’s fair­ly re­cent stake in Iron­wood, Al­ler­gan’s part­ner on IBS and con­sti­pa­tion drug Linzess.

David Tep­per

Plus, Ic­ahn’s in­vest­ment fol­l­lows David Tep­per’s 1% stake at Al­ler­gan. Tep­per, founder and pres­i­dent of Ap­paloosa, just made head­lines this Tues­day for his let­ter to Al­ler­gan push­ing the drug­mak­er to over­haul its man­age­ment.

“It is time for Al­ler­gan’s man­age­ment to con­cen­trate on run­ning a world class phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and aes­thet­ics busi­ness and forego thoughts of, or the ex­hil­a­ra­tion from, an am­bi­tious ac­qui­si­tion strat­e­gy,” Tep­per wrote in a let­ter to Al­ler­gan’s board.

Among Tep­per’s sug­ges­tions was split­ting up the roles of CEO and chair­man, both of which are oc­cu­pied by Saun­ders at the mo­ment.

Ic­ahn, who had in­vest­ed in Al­ler­gan in the past, be­lieves the com­pa­ny’s stock is un­der­val­ued, the sources said, ask­ing not to be iden­ti­fied be­cause the mat­ter is con­fi­den­tial.

Al­ler­gan re­cent­ly did a strate­gic re­view of the com­pa­ny, com­ing out af­ter with plans to sell its women’s health and in­fec­tious dis­ease units to fo­cus on med­ical aes­thet­ics, CNS, eye care and GI — ar­eas in which the com­pa­ny be­lieves it’s com­pet­i­tive to ri­vals.

Al­ler­gan is­sued this state­ment in re­sponse to ques­tions about Ic­ahn’s stake:

“Al­ler­gan wel­comes all in­vest­ments in our com­pa­ny. We main­tain an ac­tive di­a­logue with our share­hold­ers and val­ue their con­struc­tive in­put and ideas on de­liv­er­ing long-term val­ue.”

The com­pa­ny’s stock is up 2% on the news.


Im­age: Carl Ic­ahn. GET­TY IM­AGES

M&A: a crit­i­cal dri­ver for sus­tain­able top-line growth in health­care

2021 saw a record $600B in healthcare M&A activity. In 2022, there is an anticipated slowdown in activity, however, M&A prospects remain strong in the medium to long-term. What are future growth drivers for the healthcare sector? Where might we see innovations that drive M&A? RBC’s Andrew Callaway, Global Head, Healthcare Investment Banking discusses with Vito Sperduto, Global Co-Head, M&A.

15 LGBTQ lead­ers in bio­phar­ma; Paul Stof­fels’ Gala­pa­gos re­vamp; As­traZeneca catch­es up in AT­TR; and more

Welcome back to Endpoints Weekly, your review of the week’s top biopharma headlines. Want this in your inbox every Saturday morning? Current Endpoints readers can visit their reader profile to add Endpoints Weekly. New to Endpoints? Sign up here.

A return to in-person conferences also marks a return to on-the-ground reporting. My colleagues Beth Synder Bulik and Nicole DeFeudis were on-site at Cannes Lions, bringing live coverage of pharma’s presence at the ad festival — accompanied by photos from Clara Bui, our virtual producer, that bring you right to the scene. You can find a recap (and links to all the stories) below.

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Abortion-rights protesters regroup and protest following Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

Fol­low­ing SCO­TUS de­ci­sion to over­turn abor­tion pro­tec­tions, AG Gar­land says states can't ban the abor­tion pill

Following the Supreme Court’s historic decision on Friday to overturn Americans’ constitutional right to an abortion after almost 50 years, Attorney General Merrick Garland sought to somewhat reassure women that states will not be able to ban the prescription drug sometimes used for abortions.

Following the decision, the New England Journal of Medicine also published an editorial strongly condemning the reversal, saying it “serves American families poorly, putting their health, safety, finances, and futures at risk.”

AstraZeneca's new Evusheld direct to consumer campaign aims to reach more immunocompromised patients.

As­traZeneca de­buts first con­sumer cam­paign for its Covid-19 pro­phy­lac­tic Evusheld — and a first for EUA drugs

AstraZeneca’s first consumer ad for Evusheld is also a first for drugs that have been granted emergency use authorizations during the pandemic.

The first DTC ad for a medicine under emergency approval, the Evusheld campaign launching this week aims to raise awareness among immunocompromised patients — and spur more use.

Evusheld nabbed emergency authorization in December, however, despite millions of immunocompromised people looking for a solution and now more widespread availability of the drug.

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Joe Papa (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Joe Pa­pa re­signs as chair of Bausch Health as bil­lion­aire John Paul­son takes over

Joe Papa, chair of Bausch Health, officially resigned on Thursday and the board appointed billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson as the new chair, effective immediately.

The specialty pharma company sought to make clear that Papa’s abrupt departure “was not due to any dispute or disagreement with the Company, its management or the Board on any matter relating to the Company’s operations, policies or practices.”

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GSK says its drug for chron­ic hep B could ‘lead to a func­tion­al cure’ — but will it be alone or in com­bi­na­tion?

GSK, newly branded and soon-to-be demerged, shared interim results from its Phase II trial on its chronic hepatitis B treatment, one that it says has the “potential to lead to a functional cure.”

At a presentation at the EASL International Liver Congress, GSK shared that in around 450 patients who received its hep B drug bepirovirsen for 24 weeks, just under 30% had hepatitis B surface antigen and viral DNA levels that were too low to detect.

De­spite a slow start to the year for deals, PwC pre­dicts a flur­ry of ac­tiv­i­ty com­ing up

Despite whispers of a busy year for M&A, deal activity in the pharma space is actually down 30% on a semi-annualized basis, according to PwC’s latest report on deal activity. But don’t rule out larger deals in the second half of the year, the consultants said.

PwC pharmaceutical and life sciences consulting solutions leader Glenn Hunzinger expects to see Big Pharma companies picking up earlier stage companies to try and fill pipeline gaps ahead of a slew of big patent cliffs. Though a bear market continues to maul the biotech sector, Hunzinger said recent deals indicate that pharma companies are still paying above current trading prices.

Joe Wiley, Amryt Pharma CEO

Am­ryt Phar­ma sub­mits a for­mal dis­pute res­o­lu­tion to the FDA over re­ject­ed skin dis­ease drug

The story of Amryt Pharma’s candidate for the genetic skin condition epidermolysis bullosa, or EB, will soon enter another chapter.

After the Irish drugmaker’s candidate, dubbed Oleogel-S10 and marketed as Filsuvez, was handed a CRL earlier this year, the company announced in a press release that it plans to submit a formal dispute resolution request for the company’s NDA for Oleogel-S10.

Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP Images)

Phar­ma-friend­ly sen­a­tor calls on FDA for a third time to show patent pro­tec­tions should­n't be blamed for high drug prices

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis made a name for himself in the 2020 election cycle as the darling of the pharma industry, accepting hundreds of thousands in campaign contributions, even from the likes of Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla.

Those contributions have led Tillis to attempt to re-write patent laws in pharma’s favor, a move which failed to gain steam in 2019, and request for a third time since January that the FDA should help stop “the false narrative that patent protections are to blame for high drug prices.”