Are deals such as M&As between biotechs and big pharma becoming a thing of the past? That was a key question posed during the opening keynote at this year’s BIO-Europe Spring conference in Basel, Switzerland. Although Susanne Kreutz, global head of corporate and business development of Basel-based Novartis AG, doesn’t think this is the case, she told delegates that she believes M&A will increasingly focus in on “high-quality, high-impact, late-stage assets, where reimbursement is securable and where regulatory paths appear.”
March 17 brought neither good luck nor good news to Pear Therapeutics Inc. Just prior to the opening bell, the prescription digital therapeutics company reported that it had engaged MTSA Health Partners LP to explore strategic alternatives for the company. In addition, Pear filed an 8-K with the SEC withdrawing its revenue and operating guidance for fiscal 2022 and 2023 and indicating that it does not plan to hold a fourth quarter and full year 2022 earnings conference call and webcast.
After placing a temporary hold on the merger between F-star Therapeutics Ltd. and Sino Biopharmaceutical Ltd.’s Invox Pharma Ltd., citing “unresolved national security risks,” the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has finally cleared the merger to proceed. London-based Invox announced its plans to acquire F-star in June 2022 for $161 million to build up the presence of its parent company, Sino Biopharm Ltd., outside of China.
Livzon Pharmaceutical Group Inc. licensed rights to zastaprazan, a gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) treatment candidate, from Onconic Therapeutics Inc. in a $127.5 million deal. Under the agreement, Livzon, which is based in Guangdong, China, obtains the exclusive rights to develop, license, manufacture and commercialize the candidate in greater China. In turn, Seoul, Korea-based Onconic will obtain a $15 million up-front payment, and up to $112.5 million in development, licensing and commercialization milestone payments.
From Carl Icahn’s point of view, Illumina Inc.’s desired reintegration of its former spinoff is more a poisoned chalice than a holy Grail. In his opening salvo to a proxy fight, Icahn published an open letter March 13 to other Illumina shareholders referencing the “extreme displeasure” of investors with Illumina’s “reckless” determination to acquire Grail Inc., despite European regulators’ strong opposition to the deal.
Shares of Provention Bio Inc. (NASDAQ:PRVB) closed March 13 at $24.10, up $17.40, or 259%, after Wall Street learned that collaborator Sanofi SA intends to acquire the firm for $25 per share in cash, which works out to an equity value of about $2.9 billion. The transaction brings Paris-based Sanofi the type 1 diabetes (T1D) therapy Tzield (teplizumab-mzwv), approved by the U.S. FDA in 2022 as the first and only therapy to delay the onset of stage 3 disease in adults and in pediatric patients ages 8 and older with T1D that has reached stage 2.
Pfizer Inc.’s appetite for acquisitions shows no signs of abating as it announced this morning its plan to acquire biotech Seagen Inc. for a whopping $43 billion in a move that will double the size of its early stage oncology pipeline. Under the deal, unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both firms, Pfizer will pay Seagen $229 per share. Bothell, Wash.-based Seagen expects to amass $2.2 billion in revenue in 2023, representing 12% year-on-year-growth, royalties and collaboration and license agreements from its four, FDA-approved products for the treatment of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies, antibody-drug conjugate drugs Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), Padcev (enfortumab vedotin) and Tivdak (tisotumab vedotin), and tyrosin kinase inhibitor Tukysa (tucatinib).
Another step forward in the quest for an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) vaccine took the form of Merck & Co. Inc.’s deal with Modex Therapeutics Inc., owned by Opko Health Inc., to advance MDX-2201 worldwide, an arrangement that brings $50 million up front for Opko plus as much as $872.5 million in milestone payments along with royalties.
After placing a temporary hold on the merger between F-star Therapeutics Ltd. and Sino Biopharmaceutical Ltd.’s Invox Pharma Ltd., citing “unresolved national security risks,” the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has finally cleared the merger to proceed.
Chiesi Farmaceutici SpA has agreed to pay Affibody AB up to $214 million in a collaboration and licensing agreement to develop an inhaled treatment for respiratory diseases, with a further $423 million also in the cards if the deal is extended to two more programs. The fees consist of up front and milestone payments, based on certain development, regulatory and commercial achievements, with additional mid-single to low double-digit royalties on sales.