Friday, November 09, 2007

Deals of the Week--the Rerun Edition

What's Happenin?

Hollywood writers are on strike and the late-night comedy shows are in reruns. To this IN VIVO blogger, it seems that same affliction has struck pharma land.

Once again, the name dominating the news flow: BiogenIdec, the Cambridge, MA-based biotech that put itself on the auction block a few weeks ago. The Financial Times reports that with opening bids dues out next week, Pfizer is still the front-runner. Merck and J&J are also interested. (Apparently, Pfizer sparked the sale by offering $80 a share for Biogen, with investor Carl Icahn quickly stepping in with a counter-off.)

And remember the Ventana/ Roche pas de deux? Roche continues its unrequited love match. The Swiss pharma announced the fourth extension of its $75-a-share hostile offer--this time until January 17, 2008. Fierce Biotech has the story. (My question for Roche: have you tried saying it with flowers?)

Thank God it's time for ...

  • In addition to the $440 million pact Shire and Amicus forged to out-enzyme Genzyme, the other notable biopharma deal this week was the $477 million deal Merck inked with GTx for rights to its selective androgen receptor modulators (SARMs), including Ostarine, a Phase II compound in clinical trials for the treatment of muscle loss in cancer patients. (Devoted IN VIVO Blog readers will no doubt remember that this same class of molecules was the basis for an earlier deal this month between BMS and Pharmacopeia. Look it up with our new Transaction Tracker tool.)

  • On the device side, there were several deals worth noting, including an announcement from the struggling device maker Boston Scientific. On November 5, it announced the sale of its cardiac and vascular surgery businesses to Sweden-based Gettinge AB for $750 million. The sale is part of Boston Scientific's plan, announced in August, to refocus on growth-driving businesses and reduce debt by selling off certain medical device units. (Hmm, $27,000 million - 750 million = ?) For more on the Boston Scientific saga, start with this IN VIVO piece from last year.

  • Second, Arteriocyte Medical Systems, a spin-off of the Cleveland-based stem cell company Arteriocyte, inked a deal with Medtronic to acquire its Magellan Platelet Business. Deal terms were not disclosed, but the end-goal seems to be a convergence in the device/ cellular therapy space that allows improved delivery of parent company Anteriocyte's specialized adult stem cell treatments. has the story.

  • Finally, Edwards Lifesciences announced the acquisition of Ethicon's CardioVations product line. It certainly wasn't a big deal--just $27 million--but it represents the latest chapter in the storied history of one-time med device darling HeartPort. Here's more analysis from IN VIVO's own device guru, David Cassak:

A decade ago, the hottest topic in cardiovascular medicine was minimally-invasive cardiac surgery and the hottest company, bar none, was HeartPort, which was developing an innovative system that would enable doctors to do minimally-invasive surgery while preserving cardiac-pulmonary bypass, the gold standard of cardiac surgery at the time.

The problem was, no one really wanted to preserve CPB. After a spectacular IPO, which saw the company valued at more than half a billion dollars, HeartPort struggled, and the company soon became a kind of poster child for medical device flame-outs.

HeartPort’s sale a couple of years ago to Ethicon for around $80 million was one mark of how far HeartPort’s star had fallen. Some industry executives still believe the HP technology is clinically revolutionary, and this sale to Edwards likely reflects only a portion of the assets Ethicon acquired a couple of years ago. But it does represent another chapter in the HeartPort saga.

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