Jacek Olczak, Philip Morris CEO (Yen Meng Jiin/Singapore Press via AP Images)

Vec­tura board says it will unan­i­mous­ly back a Philip Mor­ris takeover

Philip Mor­ris is one step clos­er to tak­ing over res­pi­ra­to­ry drug­mak­er Vec­tura, as the UK-based com­pa­ny’s board of di­rec­tors says it will unan­i­mous­ly back the to­bac­co gi­ant’s $1.5 bil­lion bid.

The board said it con­sid­ers Philip Mor­ris’ of­fer “fair and rea­son­able,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment. The cig­a­rette com­pa­ny, best known for its Marl­boro prod­ucts, of­fered 165 pence per share, beat­ing out a 155 pence per share of­fer by the pri­vate eq­ui­ty firm The Car­lyle Group.

The news comes days af­ter The Car­lyle Group in­sist­ed its most re­cent of­fer of $1.3 bil­lion was fi­nal, re­fus­ing to get in­volved in a planned auc­tion or go above what it con­clud­ed was a “full and fair” price for Vec­tura.

When The Car­lyle Group first an­nounced its buy­out of­fer in May, it seemed to be a done deal, with the val­u­a­tion mark­ing a 32% pre­mi­um over the com­pa­ny’s mar­ket val­ue at the time. Vec­tura, which flopped as a drug de­vel­op­er, has flour­ished since piv­ot­ing to for­mu­lat­ing in­haled drugs for clients.

Then Philip Mor­ris put in an of­fer, as CEO Jacek Ol­czak pushed a “be­yond nico­tine” strat­e­gy that would po­si­tion the com­pa­ny to gen­er­ate more than half its rev­enue from smoke-free prod­ucts by 2025.

But the move trig­gered back­lash from con­sumer ad­vo­cates, char­i­ties, an­ti-smok­ing groups and even the UK’s busi­ness sec­re­tary.

“To­bac­co com­pa­nies should not prof­it from the ill­ness­es their prod­ucts cause,” a group of rep­re­sen­ta­tives from more than 20 an­ti-smok­ing and lung health or­ga­ni­za­tions wrote to Vec­tura’s board yes­ter­day.

“In ad­di­tion, we be­lieve Vec­tura’s fu­ture com­mer­cial vi­a­bil­i­ty as a com­pa­ny ded­i­cat­ed to im­prov­ing res­pi­ra­to­ry health would be se­ri­ous­ly jeop­ar­dised should the PMI takeover pro­ceed,” they added.

Those rep­re­sen­ta­tives in­clud­ed Bron­wyn King, CEO of To­bac­co Free Port­fo­lios;  Sarah Wool­nough, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Asth­ma UK; and Kjeld Hansen, chair of the Eu­ro­pean Lung Foun­da­tion, among oth­ers.

The buy­out still needs the ap­proval of more than half of Vec­tura’s share­hold­ers. But be­cause Philip Mor­ris switched its pro­pos­al to a takeover of­fer, there will be no share­hold­er meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to the board’s state­ment. In­stead, the of­fer will be open for at least 21 days, and PMI needs to get ac­cep­tance in the next 60 days, Reuters re­port­ed.

Brown Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment, a Bal­ti­more firm, owns the largest stake in the com­pa­ny. Van­guard al­so holds a sig­nif­i­cant piece of the pie. But Axa In­vest­ment Man­agers, TIG Ad­vis­ers and Berry Street Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment — which to­geth­er hold about 11.2% of shares — had been in sup­port of the Car­lyle takeover, ac­cord­ing to Reuters.

Op­ti­miz­ing Cell and Gene Ther­a­py De­vel­op­ment and Pro­duc­tion: How Tech­nol­o­gy Providers Like Corn­ing Life Sci­ences are Spurring In­no­va­tion

Remarkable advances in cell and gene therapy over the last decade offer unprecedented therapeutic promise and bring new hope for many patients facing diseases once thought incurable. However, for cell and gene therapies to reach their full potential, researchers, manufacturers, life science companies, and academics will need to work together to solve the significant challenges facing the industry.

Amid mon­key­pox fears, biotechs spring to ac­tion; Mod­er­na’s CFO trou­ble; Cuts, cuts every­where; Craft­ing the right pro­teins; 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.

It’s always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye, but as Josh Sullivan goes off to new adventures we are grateful for the way he’s built up the Endpoints Manufacturing section — which the rest of the team will now carry forward. If you’re not already, this may be a good time to sign up for your weekly dose of drug manufacturing news. Thank you for reading and wish you a restful weekend.

Bay­er sounds re­treat from a $670 mil­lion CAR-T pact in the wake of a pa­tient death

Two months after Atara Biotherapeutics hit the hold button on its lead CAR-T 2.0 therapy following a patient death, putting the company under the watchful eye of the FDA, its Big Pharma partners at Bayer are bowing out of a $670 million global alliance. And the move is forcing a revamp of Atara’s pipeline plans, even as research execs vow to continue work on the two drugs allied with Bayer 18 months ago, which delivered a $60 million cash upfront.

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Siddhartha Mukherjee (Brian Ach/Getty Images for The New Yorker)

All Blue's $733M bid to ac­quire Zymeworks turns hos­tile as board bat­tles back — af­ter a biotech celebri­ty jumps in

Yesterday, the team at All Blue Capital — bent on the takeover of a badly battered Zymeworks — brought in celebrated oncologist, Pulitzer prize-winning writer and biotech exec Siddhartha Mukherjee to add some glitz to their proposed board. But they’re still not winning over any converts.

This morning, Zymeworks’ board officially turned this acquisition offer into a hostile showdown, rejecting the unsolicited offer and marshaling its forces to prevent a buyout at $10.50 per share.

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Saemundur 'Sam' Oddsson, Sidekick Health co-founder and CMO

Pfiz­er teams up with dig­i­tal ther­a­peu­tics part­ner for next prod­uct launch, this time in atopic der­mati­tis

Big Pharma has been slowly but surely warming up to the potential of digital therapeutics, as evidenced by Sanofi inking a deal two months ago with DarioHealth. And on Thursday, another Big Pharma will take a look at the space in what it deems as simply the next step in an ongoing partnership.

Icelandic biotech Sidekick Health announced the launch of its digital therapeutics product specifically geared for atopic dermatitis Thursday alongside Pfizer, its Big Pharma partner who collaborated on the indication. CMO and co-founder Saemundur “Sam” Oddsson told Endpoints News that this is not the first time that Pfizer and Sidekick Health have worked together — in fact, it is the fourth digital therapeutics product that the pair have co-launched.

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Paul Chaplin, Bavarian Nordic president and CEO

Bavar­i­an Nordic se­cures BAR­DA con­tract for small­pox vac­cine

It seems that smallpox vaccination production is weighing on the mind of the US government. And manufacturer Bavarian Nordic is the latest company to benefit.

Just a few days after Emergent, a company that has made government contracts its lifeblood, acquired the exclusive rights to Tembexa from Chimerix, with a $225 million cash payment and an expected BARDA contract, the agency has offered a contract for smallpox vaccine production.

Sanofi and Re­gen­eron clear the fin­ish line in an in­flam­ma­to­ry esoph­a­gus dis­ease, leav­ing Take­da in the dust

With atopic dermatitis rivals breathing down Dupixent’s neck, Sanofi and Regeneron on Friday secured a first win in new territory in what Sanofi’s head of immunology and inflammation Naimish Patel called the fastest approval he’s ever seen.

The FDA approved Dupixent on Friday to treat patients 12 years and older with eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE), an inflammatory condition that causes swelling and scarring of the esophagus. The approval came just a couple months after regulators granted Dupixent priority review, and months ahead of its PDUFA date on Aug. 3.

Fu­ji­film con­tin­ues its biotech build­ing spree with new fa­cil­i­ty in Chi­na

A Japanese conglomerate is making a big play in China with the opening of a new facility, as it continues to expand.

Fujifilm Irvine Scientific has opened its new Innovation and Collaboration Center in Suzhou New District, China, an area in Jiangsu province specifically designated for technological and industrial development.

According to Fujifilm, the 12,000-square-foot site will be responsible for the company’s cell culture media optimization, analysis and design services. Cell culture media itself often requires customization of formulas and protocols to achieve the desired quantity and quality of therapeutic desired. Fujifilm Irvine Scientific is offering these services from its headquarters in California and Japan to its customers globally, as well as in China now.

Try­ing to shake up the Parkin­son's par­a­digm, Ab­b­Vie sub­mits NDA for con­tin­u­ous, 24-hour in­fu­sion ther­a­py

AbbVie is approaching the FDA with a new therapy to potentially treat Parkinson’s disease, using prodrugs of two medications commonly used for the condition.

The Big Pharma submitted its NDA for ABBV-951, a solution of levodopa and carbidopa prodrugs being evaluated in advanced Parkinson’s patients who don’t respond well to oral therapy, AbbVie announced Friday morning. Researchers are hoping a positive Phase III study that reads out in late October will help move things along quickly at the agency.