Today marks the official start of summer (at least for those of us in the Northern climes). With another BIO fest put to bed, pharma and biotech execs--and, according to the Boston Globe, politocos--can get down to the serious business of the season: BBQs and beer. Certainly the news flow this week--from the partying in San Diego to the resolution of several long-standing disputes--contributed to the sense of easy living.
Boehringer Ingelheim/Actimis: We distinctly don’t know what Actimis Pharmaceuticals’ Phase I anti-asthma project, AP768, is worth to its kind-a, sort-a acquirer, Boehringer Ingelheim. BI apparently wants the compound but not the rest of Actimis so the little-known San Diego company will spin off the non-AP768 bits into a new company and let BI acquire what’s left. BI will buy Actimis in stages, as AP768 proves itself but the unhelpful PR (which touts this as a $515 million acquisition, granted the compound gets into Phase III) doesn’t give any real sense of the value to Actimis’ investors, the largest of which are Sanderling and Mitsui Venture Partners. Actimis CEO Peter McWilliams wasn’t much more helpful when he spoke with our colleagues at The Pink Sheet Daily. What it does imply, however, is that the VCs, who financed the company’s spin-off from Bayer in 2005, don’t want to put any more money into the compound’s clinical development and are instead willing to limit their upside by letting BI finance the rest of the work through share purchases. Presumably the first slug of money will return at least part of the Sanderling/Mitsui investment and, if the drug continues to perform, subsequent purchases will actually make them some money. And not a bad deal for BI, either. If the drug works, BI will have paid for the entire thing with capitalizable equity (OK, not a big thing for a private company like BI, but an interesting model for any public company looking to replicate the deal) and, presumably, won't owe any royalties on it.
Roche/ThromboGenics & BioInvent: On Wednesday Belgian based ThromboGenics and Swedish antibody maker BioInvent announced they had partnered their jointly developed anticancer monoclonal antibody, TB-403, with Roche. Deal terms for the early stage mAB (it just finished a Phase Ia trial) were generous: the two biotechs will split the $77.4 upfront payment 60/40. The companies could also receive close to $700 in downstream development and commercial milestones if the drug pans out in multiple indications. In addition, Roche has agreed to pick up all additional development costs for TB-403 beyond the clinical trial already in progress and will pay the biotechs to research the possible utility of the antibody in other non-cancer arenas. In return, Roche has worldwide marketing rights to the product, with BioInvent and ThromboGenics retaining co-marketing rights in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the Baltic and Nordic Regions. TB-403 works by inhibiting a specific protein, Placental Growth Factor (PIGF), cutting off blood flow to tumors via a different mechanism than other VEGF inhibitors such as Genentech's Avastin. Indeed, a study published in the November Cell showed that anti-PIGF antibodies appear to starve tumor blood vessels without impacting the vasculature in healthy tissues, a side-effect commonly associated with current tumor-fighting treatments. Thanks to its Genentech ties, Roche is well versed in angiogenesis inhibitors and clearly liked what it saw despite the dearth of human data associated with the antibody. Competition for hot oncology targets is, of course, fierce and that likely drove up the deal value for TB-403.
Medicis/Liposonix: We opine in our June START-UP (which went to press last week) about pre-commercial device companies not standing a snowball’s chance in a sauna of achieving a respectable exit. And this week, Medicis went and proved us wrong, paying $150 million for Liposonix, the developer of an ultrasonic body sculpting technology due to premiere on the US market sometime after 2011. (If the launch goes well, Liposonix investors stand to receive another $150 million in commercial milestone payments.) Liposonix's story echoes that of many medtech/ device companies: VCs are holding such outfits in their portfolios longer than ever--longer even than biopharma investments--and putting up far more dollars than they used to. After almost ten years and $40 million, Accuitive Medical Ventures, The Carlyle Group, Delphi Ventures, Essex Woodlands Health Venture, Pinnacle Ventures, Three Arch Partners, SV Life Sciences, and Versant Ventures must be breathing a sigh of relief that Liposonix finally found just the right mid-sized acquirer. Medicis has a successful wrinkle-reducer, Restylane, and is about to launch Reloxin, its Botox alternative. With almost $465 million in sales in 2007, Medicis certainly has the heft to continue Liposonix’s clinical trials and could be first to market with this long-awaited device that melts isolated pockets of fat away without surgery or actual physical exertion.
(Photo courtesy of Flickr user thovie333 via a creative commons license.)