To­bi­ra chair­man’s din­ner with Brent: In­dus­try chat led to a 3-month pur­suit and a stun­ning $1.7B deal

It start­ed with din­ner last sum­mer in New York.

Brent Saun­ders, Al­ler­gan

Al­ler­gan CEO Brent Saun­ders broke bread with To­bi­ra Chair­man Den­nis Podle­sak and a board mem­ber, Do­main’s Eckard We­ber on June 21. Some­time be­fore the dessert cart rolled, the con­ver­sa­tion turned from var­i­ous in­dus­try top­ics to To­bi­ra’s lead drug.

It end­ed a few days ago, af­ter Saun­ders was re­peat­ed­ly prod­ded to keep up­ping an of­fer to buy the com­pa­ny, start­ing at $310 mil­lion in cash and $740 mil­lion in con­tin­gent val­ue rights. And even though the lead NASH drug sub­se­quent­ly failed a key study, Saun­ders even­tu­al­ly jumped in­to a bid­ding war for To­bi­ra, agree­ing to pay a jaw-drop­ping pre­mi­um to bag the biotech for $595 mil­lion and a CVR pack­age worth $1.1 bil­lion.

To­bi­ra Chair­man Den­nis Podle­sak

The back-and-forth, spelled out in SEC doc­u­ments, helps il­lus­trate just how high an ac­tive bid­der will go for an as­set when they de­cide to mas­ter an auc­tion. The clos­ing amount alone re­flect­ed a 518% pre­mi­um over the clos­ing price Sep­tem­ber 16, the biggest pre­mi­um many an­a­lysts had ever wit­nessed. And the cash price was close to twice the stock’s 52-week high, a fig­ure that had been blast­ed by the tri­al fail­ure.

In this case, Al­ler­gan al­so went a step be­yond the usu­al, of­fer­ing to sign up key ex­ecs on new con­tracts. And the ex­ecs al­so did well with their fi­nal buy­out pack­ages. CEO Lau­rent Fis­ch­er grabbed a $6.3 mil­lion gold­en para­chute on his way to a $51 mil­lion cash-out.

To­bi­ra owes a lot to a com­pa­ny iden­ti­fied on­ly as “Par­ty A” in the SEC docs. Orig­i­nal­ly in­ter­est­ed in a part­ner­ship a cou­ple of years ago, Par­ty A would even­tu­al­ly of­fer $550 mil­lion in cash plus $1.05 bil­lion for a CVR to ac­quire To­bi­ra. And that of­fer set the stage for Al­ler­gan’s best and fi­nal of­fer.

The biotech’s ceni­crivi­roc flunked a Phase IIb study for NASH in Ju­ly, but the South San Fran­cis­co-based biotech said it got enough pos­i­tive da­ta on a sec­ondary end­point to war­rant a move in­to a piv­otal Phase III pro­gram.

Saun­ders clear­ly agreed on that point.




A fa­vorite in Alex­ion’s C-suite is leav­ing, and some mighty sur­prised an­a­lysts aren’t the least bit hap­py about it

Analysts hate to lose a biotech CFO they’ve come to trust and admire — especially if they’re being blindsided by a surprise exit.

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David Grainger [file photo]

'Dis­con­nect the bas­tard­s' — one biotech's plan to break can­cer cell­s' uni­fied de­fens­es

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are the current gladiators of cancer treatment, but they come with well-known limitations and side-effects. The emergence of immunotherapy — a ferocious new titan in oncologist’s toolbox — takes the brakes off the immune system to kill cancer cells with remarkable success in some cases, but the approach is not always effective. What makes certain forms of cancer so resilient? Scientists may have finally pieced together a tantalizing piece of the puzzle, and a new biotech is banking on a new approach to fill the gap.

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While No­var­tis ban­ish­es Zol­gens­ma scan­dal scars — Bio­gen goes on a Spin­raza 'of­fen­sive'

While Novartis painstakingly works to mop up the stench of the data manipulation scandal associated with its expensive gene therapy for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Zolgensma— rival Biogen is attempting to expand the use of its SMA therapy, Spinraza. 

The US drugmaker $BIIB secured US approval for Spinraza for use in the often fatal genetic disease in 2016. The approval covered a broad range of patients with infantile-onset (most likely to develop Type 1) SMA. 

Jason Kelly. Mike Blake/Reuters via Adobe

Eye­ing big ther­a­peu­tic push, Gink­go bags $290M to build a cell pro­gram­ming em­pire

Ginkgo Bioworks is on a roll. Days after publicizing a plan to nurture new startups via partnerships with accelerators Y Combinator and Petri, the Boston biotech says it has raised another $290 million for its cell programming platform to reach further and wider.

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UP­DAT­ED: Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi to un­veil bill for fed­er­al­ly ne­go­ti­at­ed drug prices

After months of buzz from both sides of the aisle, Speaker Nancy Pelosi will today introduce her plan to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for 250 prescription drugs, setting up a showdown with a pharmaceutical industry working overtime to prevent it.

The need to limit drug prices is a rare point of agreement between President Trump and Democrats, although the president has yet to comment on the proposal and will likely face pressure to back a more conservative option or no bill at all. Republican Senator Chuck Grassley is reportedly lobbying his fellow party members on a more modest proposal he negotiated with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden in July.

Jeff Kindler's Cen­trex­ion re­news bid to make pub­lic de­but

Jeffrey Kindler’s plan to take his biotech — which is developing a slate of non-opioid painkillers — public, is back on.

The Boston based company, led by former Pfizer $PFE chief Kindler, originally contemplated a $70 million to $80 million IPO last year— but eventually postponed that strategy. On Wednesday, the company revived its bid to make a public debut in a filing with the SEC — although no pricing details were disclosed.

Zachary Hornby. Boundless

'A fourth rev­o­lu­tion in can­cer ther­a­pies': ARCH-backed Bound­less Bio flash­es big check, makes big­ger promis­es in de­but

It was the cellular equivalent of opening your car door and finding an active, roaring engine in the driver seat.

Scientists learned strands of DNA could occasionally appear outside of its traditional home in the nucleus in the 1970s, when they appeared as little, innocuous circles on microscopes; inexplicable but apparently innate. But not until UC San Diego’s Paul Mischel published his first study in Science in 2014 did researchers realize these circles were not only active but potentially overactive and driving some cancer tumors’ superhuman growth.

It’s fi­nal­ly over: Bio­gen, Ei­sai scrap big Alzheimer’s PhI­I­Is af­ter a pre­dictable BACE cat­a­stro­phe rais­es safe­ty fears

Months after analysts and investors called on Biogen and Eisai to scrap their BACE drug for Alzheimer’s and move on in the wake of a string of late-stage failures and rising safety fears, the partners have called it quits. And they said they were dropping the drug — elenbecestat — after the independent monitoring board raised concerns about…safety.

We don’t know exactly what researchers found in this latest catastrophe, but the companies noted in their release that investigators had determined that the drug was flunking the risk/benefit analysis.

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Mer­ck helps bankroll new part­ner Themis' game plan to fin­ish the chikun­gun­ya race and be­gin on­colyt­ic virus quest

As Themis gears up for a Phase III trial of its chikungunya vaccine, the Vienna-based biotech has closed out €40 million ($44 million) to foot the clinical and manufacturing bills.

Its heavyweight partners at Merck — which signed a pact around a mysterious “blockbuster indication” last month — jumped into the Series D, led by new investors Farallon Capital and Hadean Ventures. Adjuvant Capital also joined, as did current investors Global Health Investment Fund, aws Gruenderfonds, Omnes Capital, Ventech and Wellington Partners Life Sciences.