Take­da’s post-merg­er deals con­tin­ue as OTC sub­sidiary is pre­pared for sale

Take­da has been bur­dened un­der moun­tains of debt since ac­quir­ing Shire for $62 bil­lion 18 months ago, but one of the com­pa­ny’s biggest moves yet to re­lieve the stress could be on the hori­zon.

The Japan­ese phar­ma is prepar­ing a bid­ding war for its $3.7 bil­lion over-the-counter sub­sidiary, a sale that would dwarf pre­vi­ous spin­offs. Any trans­ac­tion would be the lat­est in what’s been a long string of sell-offs, as Take­da march­es un­flinch­ing­ly to­ward its ul­ti­mate goal of shed­ding $10 bil­lion in as­sets.

Take­da has been ac­tive­ly shop­ping out “non-core” op­er­a­tions at a break­neck pace. Just last month, South Ko­rea’s Cell­tri­on bought a slew of “non-core” OTC and pre­scrip­tion drugs for $278 mil­lion from the Japan­ese phar­ma. And in April, Take­da sold a sep­a­rate OTC port­fo­lio and two man­u­fac­tur­ing sites for $670 mil­lion to the Ori­farm Group in Den­mark.

The sales haven’t al­ways gone smooth­ly, how­ev­er. Take­da spun off its Xi­idra dry-eye drug to No­var­tis for $3.4 bil­lion in May 2019, but this past June the EMA shot down the pro­pos­al de­spite FDA ap­proval in the US. No­var­tis was forced to yank its mar­ket­ing cam­paign for the drug, re­sult­ing in a $200 mil­lion loss at Take­da in the sec­ond quar­ter of 2020.

The Big Phar­ma al­so teamed up with Fra­zier in May 2019 to spin out Phan­tom Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals to de­vel­op its for­mer GI drug vono­prazan. Take­da fur­ther di­vest­ed from oth­er drug port­fo­lios, ne­go­ti­at­ing a $200 mil­lion sale with Swiss phar­ma Aci­no and an $825 mil­lion sale with Brazil­ian phar­ma Hy­pera with­in the last nine months.

Take­da hopes to reach its $10 bil­lion goal and fin­ish its debt re­duc­tion some­time be­tween March 2022 and March 2024. The sell-offs have not pre­vent­ed the com­pa­ny from en­gag­ing in oth­er po­ten­tial deals, as Neu­ro­crine Bio­sciences pur­chased a pipeline of ex­per­i­men­tal psy­chi­atric drugs for $2 bil­lion last month.

Take­da Con­sumer Health­care, the sub­sidiary that man­u­fac­tures pop­u­lar prod­ucts like Ali­namin vi­t­a­min tablets and the Ben­za cold med­i­cine line, would re­port­ed­ly sell for around $3.7 bil­lion and al­low Take­da to fo­cus on “high­er prof­itabil­i­ty” drugs like can­cer treat­ments.

A cadre of high-pro­file suit­ors emerged as the fi­nal bid­ders last month, such as Black­stone, Bain Cap­i­tal and Taisho Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, ac­cord­ing to a Reuters re­port. CVC Cap­i­tal is al­so in play, with Taisho re­port­ed­ly be­ing the front-run­ner.

Jan Hatzius (Photographer: Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

When will it end? Gold­man econ­o­mist gives late-stage vac­cines a good shot at tar­get­ing 'large shares' of the US by mid-2021 — but the down­side is daunt­ing

It took decades for hepatitis B research to deliver a slate of late-stage candidates capable of reining the disease in.

With Covid-19, the same timeline has devoured all of 5 months. And the outcome will influence the lives of billions of people and a multitrillion-dollar world economy.

Count the economists at Goldman Sachs as optimistic that at least one of these leading vaccines will stay on this furiously accelerated pace and get over the regulatory goal line before the end of this year, with a shot at several more near-term OKs. That in turn should lead to the production of billions of doses of vaccines that can create herd immunity in the US by the middle of next year, with Europe following a few months later.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

UP­DAT­ED: No­vavax her­alds the lat­est pos­i­tive snap­shot of ear­ly-stage Covid-19 vac­cine -- so why did its stock briefly crater?

High-flying Novavax $NVAX became the latest of the Covid-19 vaccine players to stake out a positive set of biomarker data from its early-stage look at its vaccine in humans.

Their adjuvanted Covid-19 vaccine was “well-tolerated and elicited robust antibody responses numerically superior to that seen in human convalescent sera,” the company noted. According to the biotech:

All subjects developed anti-spike IgG antibodies after a single dose of vaccine, many of them also developing wild-type virus neutralizing antibody responses, and after Dose 2, 100% of participants developed wild-type virus neutralizing antibody responses. Both anti-spike IgG and viral neutralization responses compared favorably to responses from patients with clinically significant COVID‑19 disease. Importantly, the IgG antibody response was highly correlated with neutralization titers, demonstrating that a significant proportion of antibodies were functional.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

J&J gets a fresh OK for es­ke­t­a­mine, but is it re­al­ly the game-chang­er for de­pres­sion Trump keeps tweet­ing about?

Backed by an enthusiastic set of tweets from President Trump and a landmark OK for depression, J&J scooped up a new approval from the FDA for Spravato today. But this latest advance will likely bring fresh scrutiny to a drug that’s spurred some serious questions about the data, as well as the price.

First, the approval.

Regulators stamped their OK on the use of Spravato — developed as esketamine, a nasal spray version of the party drug Special K or ketamine — for patients suffering from major depressive disorder with acute suicidal ideation or behavior.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

Mer­ck scoops up a PhII J&J dis­card in a bar­gain-base­ment deal. And this time they’re shoot­ing at NASH

When J&J turned to South Korea’s Hanmi for a GLP-1/glucagon dual receptor agonist obesity drug, the pharma giant paid $105 million in a cash upfront for the licensing rights and plotted a big clinical trial program to test it. A year ago, like a few of Hanmi’s big partners, J&J reviewed their trial data and walked away, handing it back.

Now Merck is stepping up to grab it for their NASH pipeline — and they got it a lot cheaper than J&J.

Igor Splawski (CureVac)

Cure­Vac nabs a top No­var­tis sci­en­tist for CSO slot as mR­NA vac­cines seize the spot­light

One of the key players in the race to develop a new mRNA vaccine to fight Covid-19 has reshuffled the top spots in the executive suite. And they’re bringing in a Novartis vet out of Harvard to spearhead their work on mRNA.

CureVac, which just filed for an IPO that’s still taking shape, has formally handed Franz-Werner Haas the CEO title, after giving it to him on an interim basis. And the still rather stealthy German biotech largely owned by billionaire Dietmar Hopp has recruited Igor Splawski as its chief scientific officer.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

President Donald Trump (left) and Moncef Slaoui, head of Operation Warp Speed (Alex Brandon, AP Images)

OWS' Mon­cef Slaoui lam­basts ‘in­sult­ing’ me­dia cov­er­age: 'How are you help­ing in this pan­dem­ic?'

Ten weeks into his job as the chief advisor of Operation Warp Speed, Moncef Slaoui has found a new hurdle to the challenge of bringing a Covid-19 vaccine unprecedented speed: the media.

In an official podcast by the Department of Health and Human Services, Slaoui — a veteran of GlaxoSmithKline who came out of his retirement to take on the role, relinquishing several board directorships and selling shares in the process — counted himself naive in assuming that the press was aiming to inform.

Endpoints News

Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription

Unlock this story instantly and join 86,500+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free.

As­traZeneca throws Redx a life­line — in ex­change for a pre­clin­i­cal fi­bro­sis drug — with a promise of $17M in quick cash plus mile­stones

It’s not often that a deal with $17 million in near-term cash inspires a stock market rally. But for troubled UK biotech Redx, that kind of pact represents a new lease on life.

In and out of hot water with its creditors, Redx has now out-licensed a preclinical porcupine inhibitor, RXC006, to Mene Pangalos at AstraZeneca. And the deal sparked a big rally for small-cap Redx, with its shares $REDX rocketing up 238%.

Covid-19 roundup: Eli Lil­ly retro­fits RVs for first-of-its-kind an­ti­body tri­al with NIH; Am­gen, Ab­b­Vie, Take­da team on a drug

Eli Lilly and the NIH are about to start a first-of-its-kind trial that researchers and developers have talked about for months as a way of providing temporary immunity to the most at-risk populations.

Lilly announced this morning that it will start a 2,400-person trial with the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases to test whether its experimental Covid-19 neutralizing antibody can prevent people in nursing homes and assisted living facilities from developing the disease. The idea, known as passive immunity, is that rather than waiting on a vaccine to induce people to develop antibodies, doctors can give them lab-grown antibodies. Ideally, those antibodies will either attack the new SARS-CoV-2 infection, if the patient has recently been exposed, or persist in the blood for several weeks and prevent infection or disease for that period.

FDA hands Mor­phoSys and In­cyte a quick OK on their po­ten­tial block­buster CAR-T al­ter­na­tive

Nearly three years after okaying the CAR-Ts Yescarta and Kymriah, the FDA has approved a new CD19 therapy.

MorphoSys’ Monjuvi, or tafasitamab-cxix, was cleared Friday for use in refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DBLCL). The approval sets up both MorphoSys and their commercial partner Incyte to compete with Gilead and Novartis in the ultra-competitive indication, where similar trial results and far easier delivery could allow them to cut a fair share of the market.