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.

How one start­up fore­told the neu­ro­science re­nais­sance af­ter '50 years of shit­show'

In the past couple of years, something curious has happened: Pharma and VC dollars started gushing into neuroscience research.

Biogen’s controversial new Alzheimer’s drug Aduhelm has been approved on the basis of removing amyloid plaque from the brain, but the new neuro-focused pharma and biotechs have much loftier aims. Significantly curbing or even curing the most notorious disorders would prove the Holy Grail for a complex system that has tied the world’s best drug developers in knots for decades.

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Bob Bradway, Amgen CEO (Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Am­gen bel­lies back up to the M&A ta­ble for an­oth­er biotech buy­out, this time with a $2.5B deal for an an­ti­body play­er fo­cused on PS­MA

Five months after Amgen CEO Bob Bradway stepped up to the M&A table and acquired Five Prime for $1.9 billion, following up with the smaller Rodeo acquisition, he’s gone back in for another biotech buyout.

This time around, Amgen is paying $900 million cash while committing up to $1.6 billion in milestones to bag the privately held Teneobio, an antibody drug developer that has expertise in developing new bispecifics and multispecifics. In addition, Amgen cited Teneobio’s “T-cell engager platform, which expands on Amgen’s existing leadership position in bispecific T-cell engagers by providing a differentiated, but complementary, approach to Amgen’s current BiTE platform.”

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Ryan Watts, Denali CEO

De­nali slips as a snap­shot of ear­ly da­ta rais­es some trou­bling ques­tions on its pi­o­neer­ing blood-brain bar­ri­er neu­ro work

Denali Therapeutics had drummed up considerable hype for their blood-brain barrier technology since launching over six years ago, hype that’s only intensified in the last 14 months following the publications of a pair of papers last spring and proof of concept data earlier this year. On Sunday, the South San Francisco-based biotech gave the biopharma world the next look at in-human data for its lead candidate in Hunter syndrome.

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Why is On­col­o­gy Drug De­vel­op­ment Re­search Late to the Dig­i­tal Bio­mark­ers Game?

During the recent Annual ASCO Meeting, thousands of cancer researchers and clinicians from across the globe joined together virtually to present and discuss the latest findings and breakthroughs in cancer research and care. There were more than 5000+ scientific abstracts presented during this event, yet only a handful involved the use of motion-tracking wearables to collect digital measures relating to activity, sleep, mobility, functional status, and/or quality of life. Although these results were a bit disappointing, they should come as no surprise to those of us in the wearable technology field.

Art Levinson (Calico)

Google-backed Cal­i­co dou­bles down on an­ti-ag­ing R&D pact with Ab­b­Vie as part­ners ante up $1B, start to de­tail drug tar­gets

Seven years after striking up a major R&D alliance, AbbVie and Google-backed anti-aging specialist Calico are doubling down on their work with a joint, $1 billion commitment to continuing their work together. And they’re also beginning to offer some details on where this project is taking them in the clinic.

According to their statement, each of the two players is putting up $500 million more to keep the labs humming.

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J&J’s Rem­i­cade — the poster child for how to block biosim­i­lars — fi­nal­ly set­tles Pfiz­er suit

Biosimilars have proven time and again (although mostly in Europe) that competition works to bring down the cost of a once-pricey biologic, and can even expand its use.

J&J’s Remicade, however, has always proven to be an outlier.

Back in 2016, Pfizer won FDA approval for its infliximab biosimilar, known as Inflectra, but when the launch foundered, the company sued J&J, claiming that the company’s plan to block biosimilar competition worked incredibly well. Pfizer even went on to win FDA approval for a second infliximab biosimilar in 2017, known as Ixifi, but decided to never launch it.

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Andrea Pfeifer, AC Immune CEO (AC Immune)

Look­ing to repli­cate Covid-19 suc­cess in neu­ro, BioN­Tech back­ers bet on AC Im­mune and its new­ly-ac­quired Parkin­son's vac­cine

The German billionaires behind BioNTech have found a new vaccine project to back.

Through their family office Athos Service, twin brothers Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann are leading a $25 million private placement into Switzerland’s AC Immune — which concurrently announced that it’s shelling out $58.7 million worth of stock to acquire Affiris’ portfolio of therapies targeting alpha-synuclein, including a vaccine candidate, for Parkinson’s disease.

UP­DAT­ED: Pan­el of neu­ro­science ex­perts lays out the com­pli­ca­tions with us­ing Bio­gen's new Alzheimer's drug

Treatment of early Alzheimer’s patients with Biogen’s new drug Aduhelm should closely resemble how the drug was studied in its pivotal clinical trials, according to new recommendations from a panel of neuroscience experts led by UNLV’s Jeffrey Cummings.

“Those considering aducanumab therapy should understand that the expected benefit is slowing of cognitive and functional decline; improvement of the current clinical state is not anticipated,” they wrote Tuesday in The Journal of Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease, noting that some of their recommendations are more specific or more restrictive than the information provided in the FDA’s prescribing information.

Christophe Weber, Takeda CEO (Kyodo via AP Images)

Take­da flesh­es out CNS pact with pep­tide drug­mak­er, set­ting aside $3.5B in fu­ture mile­stones

One of a suite of drugmakers looking to reinvest in the neuroscience space, Takeda has been aggressive in signing on new partners to help build up its pipeline in that space. But sometimes the best partner is the one you already have.

Takeda will set aside $3.5 billion in future milestones and an undisclosed upfront payment to build out its drug discovery deal with Japanese peptide conjugate maker PeptiDream, adding neurodegeneration to the partnership’s list of CNS targets, the companies said Tuesday.

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