The top 9 over­seas ac­counts in bio­phar­ma hold $133B in M&A fire­pow­er

Pic­tured (L-R): Stephen Ubl, CEO PhRMA; Ken Fra­zier, CEO Mer­ck; Robert Hug­in, Cel­gene chair­man; Robert Brad­way, CEO Am­gen on Jan­u­ary 31, 2017 at the White House af­ter meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Trump. An­drew Har­rer/Bloomberg via Get­ty


Dur­ing Am­gen’s Q1 dis­cus­sion with an­a­lysts on Wednes­day evening, CEO Bob Brad­way re­peat­ed one of the key themes in the land of Big Bio­phar­ma. Biotech val­u­a­tions are high, he not­ed, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to ac­quire the kind of drug as­sets he’d like to lay his hands on.

But. Tax re­form could make M&A eas­i­er for Am­gen.

And why is that? Says Brad­way:

We’ve long ad­vo­cat­ed the need for cor­po­rate tax re­form. If in­no­v­a­tive U.S. com­pa­nies are to re­main com­pet­i­tive, we need a lev­el tax play­ing field. We don’t have one now, but we’re hope­ful this ad­min­is­tra­tion will de­liv­er that in 2017. Ob­vi­ous­ly, we think such change would im­prove our flex­i­bil­i­ty for cap­i­tal al­lo­ca­tion.

Am­gen has been shel­ter­ing a cache of about $35 bil­lion in ex-US ac­counts, ac­cord­ing to some num­bers that Ever­cor­eISI’s Umer Raf­fat put to­geth­er as he be­gan as­sess­ing the im­pact tax re­form could have on the top play­ers in over­seas hold­ings.

Raf­fat’s quick­ly as­sem­bled top 10 — based on fil­ings and con­ver­sa­tions with ex­ecs, re­arranged by or­der of ex-US hold­ings — add up to rough­ly $133 bil­lion. That’s enough to fu­el quite a few ac­qui­si­tions.

A year ago, by the way, a num­ber of sto­ries in the fi­nan­cial press cit­ed Pfiz­er for hold­ing $80 bil­lion in over­seas ac­counts. But this gives you an idea of some of the cash that would be avail­able to the big US play­ers if tax re­form al­lowed for quick repa­tri­a­tion.

Sweep­ing tax re­form, though, may be even hard­er to do than health­care re­form. But you’ll note that there are sev­er­al com­pa­nies on this list that have in­di­cat­ed that they are hunt­ing deals, par­tic­u­lar­ly Am­gen, Gilead, Pfiz­er and Bio­gen. At Cel­gene, the deal pace has been con­stant for years now.

So far, 2017 has been some­thing of a dis­ap­point­ment in the M&A world. Maybe some of these com­pa­nies are just hold­ing fire, though, to see how the land­scape changes in the next few weeks.

IDC: Life Sci­ences Firms Must Em­brace Dig­i­tal Trans­for­ma­tion Now

Pre-pandemic, the life sciences industry had settled into a pattern. The average drug took 12 years and $2.9 billion to bring to market, and it was an acceptable mode of operations, according to Nimita Limaye, Research Vice President for Life Sciences R&D Strategy and Technology at IDC.

COVID-19 changed that, and served as a proof-of-concept for how technology can truly help life sciences companies succeed and grow, Limaye said. She recently spoke about industry trends at Egnyte’s Life Sciences Summit 2022. You should watch the entire session, free and on-demand, but here’s a brief recap of why she’s urging life sciences companies to embrace digital transformation.

Tom Barnes, Orna Therapeutics CEO

UP­DAT­ED: 'We have failed to fail': Mer­ck gam­bles $250M cash on a next-gen ap­proach to mR­NA — af­ter punt­ing its big al­liance with Mod­er­na

Merck went in deep on its collaboration with Moderna on new mRNA programs, and dropped them all over time, including their RSV partnership. But after writing off what turned out as one of the most successful infectious disease players in the business, Merck is coming in this morning with a new preclinical alliance — this time embracing a biotech that hopes to eventually outdo the famously successful mRNA in a new run at vaccines and therapeutics.

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Paul Hudson, Sanofi CEO (Eric Piermont/AFP via Getty Images)

Up­dat­ed: Hit by an­oth­er PhI­II flop, Sanofi culls breast can­cer drug — sound­ing alarm for the class

Sanofi is officially giving up on its oral SERD.

The French drugmaker put out word Wednesday morning that it will discontinue the global development program of amcenestrant, the selective estrogen receptor degrader once billed as a top late-stage prospect. Having already failed a Phase II monotherapy test earlier this year, a combo with the drug also missed the bar in a second trial for breast cancer, triggering the decision to drop the whole program.

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Bayer's first DTC ad campaign for chronic kidney disease drug Kerendia spells out its benefits

Bay­er aims to sim­pli­fy the com­plex­i­ties of CKD with an ABC-themed ad cam­paign

Do you know the ABCs of CKD in T2D? Bayer’s first ad campaign for Kerendia tackles the complexity of chronic kidney disease with a play on the acronym (CKD) and its connection to type 2 diabetes (T2D).

Kerendia was approved last year as the first and only non-steroidal mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist to treat CKD in people with type 2 diabetes.

In the TV commercial launched this week, A is for awareness, B is for belief and C is for cardiovascular, explained in the ad as awareness of the connection between type 2 and kidney disease, belief that something can be done about it, and cardiovascular events that may be reduced with treatment.

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James Mock, incoming CFO at Moderna

Mod­er­na taps new CFO from PerkinElmer af­ter for­mer one-day CFO oust­ed

When Moderna hired a new CFO last year,  it didn’t expect to see him gone after only one day. Today the biotech named his — likely much more vetted — replacement.

The mRNA company put out word early Wednesday that after the untimely departure of then brand-new CFO Jorge Gomez, it has now found a replacement in James Mock, the soon-to-be former CFO at diagnostics and analytics company PerkinElmer.

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Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division

GSK lands first-ever UNICEF con­tract for malar­ia vac­cine worth $170M

GSK has landed a new first from UNICEF the first-ever contract for malaria vaccines, worth up to $170 million for 18 million vaccine doses distributed over the next three years.

The vaccine, known as Mosquirix or RTS,S, won WHO’s backing last October after a controversial start, but UNICEF said these doses will potentially save thousands of lives every year.

“We hope this is just the beginning,” Etleva Kadilli, director of UNICEF’s supply division, said. “Continued innovation is needed to develop new and next-generation vaccines to increase available supply, and enable a healthier vaccine market. This is a giant step forward in our collective efforts to save children’s lives and reduce the burden of malaria as part of wider malaria prevention and control programmes.”

Joe Jonas (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)

So­lo Jonas broth­er car­ries Merz's new tune in Botox ri­val cam­paign

As the lyrics of his band’s 2019 pop-rock single suggest, Joe Jonas is only human — and that means even he gets frown lines. The 33-year-old singer-songwriter is Merz’s newest celebrity brand partner for its Botox rival Xeomin, as medical aesthetics brands target a younger audience.

Merz kicked off its “Beauty on Your Terms” campaign on Tuesday, featuring the Jonas brother in a video ad for its double-filtered anti-wrinkle injection Xeomin.

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Marisol Peron, Genmab SVP of communications and corporate affairs

Gen­mab launch­es cor­po­rate cam­paign am­pli­fy­ing its ‘knock your socks off’ an­ti­bod­ies

Genmab often talks about its “knock-your-socks-off” antibodies — and now the term is getting its own logo and corporate campaign.

The teal and purple logo for the acronym KYSO — Genmab pronounces it “ky-so” — debuts on Wednesday and comes on the heels of Genmab’s newly announced 2030 vision. That aspiration aims to expand Genmab’s drug development beyond oncology to include other serious diseases, while also doubling down on its own drug development.

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President Joe Biden signs the Democrats' landmark climate change and health care bill. From L-R: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL). (Susan Walsh/AP Images)

Pres­i­dent Biden signs ma­jor drug pric­ing re­forms in­to law: What's com­ing for bio­phar­ma?

President Joe Biden yesterday afternoon signed into law historic, decades-in-the-making new drug pricing reforms as part of a wider reconciliation bill that will likely take a chunk out of biopharma companies’ profits for some blockbusters just prior to generic or biosimilar competition.

The partisan bill (all Democrats in the House and Senate voted for it, and all Republicans voted against it) includes not only Medicare price negotiations — which won’t kick off until 2026, leaving ample time for a legal challenge — but mandatory inflation-related rebates, and a $2,000 annual cap on what seniors’ pay for their prescription drugs.

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