It's time to have your say, IN VIVO Blog readers! Our poll for the Deal of the Year is now live. (Email subscribers: if you don't see the poll below, visit the blog's home page to vote.) Please vote. Get your friends and colleagues and families to vote. Tell strangers to vote too, if you like.
Below are the list of nominees, a Baker's Dozen in no particular order, followed by the poll. The poll will be open until January 6th, when we'll announce the winner. Write-ins are acceptable, just post them in the comments and we'll tally them up as well. We'll occasionally re-post this list as a reminder over the next two weeks when otherwise IN VIVO Blog posting will be in a light, holiday-hibernation mode.
Good luck to all the nominees and see you in the New Year!
Lilly/TPG-Axon/NovaQuest: In July, Lilly announced an agreement with TPG-Axon Capital and Quintiles Transnational Corp.'s NovaQuest partnering group under which Lilly's partners will pay up to $325 million in development funding for its two lead Alzheimer's disease compounds, a gamma secretase inhibitor and an A-beta antibody, each ready to begin Phase III testing.
Genzyme/Isis: Genzyme, allegedly up against ten other bidders, agreed to pay $325 million up front (including $150 million for shares, at roughly double the price they are today) and over $800 million in development and regulatory milestones for mipomersen, a Phase III, once weekly injectable that targets low-density lipoprotein (LDL).
Takeda/Millennium: Takeda's purchase of Millennium shows the determination of Japanese pharmaceutical companies to morph into global players on the biopharmaceutical industry stage.
Infinity/Purdue & Mundipharma: In return for what could be nearly 38% of its stock and the vast majority – ex-US – of its pipeline, Infinity bought probably five years of freedom from worrying about Wall Street -- enough money for both its discovery and clinical programs -- while retaining, like Genentech, the entire US market in which to create a commercial presence.
Overprotecting Therapeutic Classes In Medicare: When Congress “codified” the CMS policy on protected drug classes over the summer, it sounded like no big deal. But instead of adopting CMS’ language stipulating the classes, Congress instead gave CMS the authority to define any classes as protected. And it also made it much more onerous for CMS to create exceptions to those protections within classes.
Alnylam/Takeda: In these cash-constrained times, the deal allows Alnylam to end the year with approximately $500 million in cash and sets the RNAi pioneer up for pipeline building down the road. It makes Takeda the sole big RNAi player in Japan and cements the Japanese pharma's place among the most active and creative dealmakers of 2008.
Pfizer/Ranbaxy: In an era when product expirations – either through the lifting of exclusivity or the weight of safety problems--seem more common than product launches, this deal is an example of how big pharma can try to take its primary care jumbo jets in for soft landings.
Novartis/Alcon: Novartis is trying to minimize the problems of a pharmaceutical company managing a device business in part through the structure of its acquisition of a majority stake in Alcon. Novartis is merely investing in the company (starting out with a 25% stake -- for $11 billion -- with a plan to increase it, sometime between 2010 and 2011, to 76%, for no more than an additional $28 billion).
Vertex/Undisclosed Investors: This is the best example we can think of from 2008 of a phenomenon that will surely gather steam as biotech firms search around for non-dilutive sources of capital: Vertex's June 2008 sale of the royalty stream on its HIV protease inhibitors (which are marketed by GSK) to a group of undisclosed investors.
FDA/Amgen: The Aranesp relabeling was the the first (and, so far, only) time FDA has used its new power to order sponsors to make specific labeling to changes. FDA gained that with the enactment of the FDA Amendments Act in 2007. So far, the agency has invoked the mandatory labeling authority seven times, but in each of the other cases the sponsor (or sponsors) has agreed to the change. But not with Aranesp.
GSK/Actelion: Actelion’s worldwide licensing deal with GlaxoSmithKline for Phase III sleep drug almorexant is one of those rare (and post-crisis, even rarer) partnerships where the biotech calls the shots. And where Big Pharma is very happy for biotech to call the shots because a) it keeps risk under control and b)—here’s the good bit--it’s picking up a tip or two on the way about how to run R&D.
Daiichi/Ranbaxy: What is surprising about the Daiichi/Ranbaxy deal is that Daiichi chose to invest in a company focused primarily on generics and geographically situated in an emerging market. While India is undoubtedly an important arena, companies such as Takeda, Astellas, and Eisai have focused their efforts on building a US presence, especially in oncology.
GSK/Sirtris: Sirtris' acquisition demonstrates the sometimes astounding value ascribed to target-specific platforms and underscores Big Pharma's interest in accessing en masse technologies and human resources that may allow them to leap forward rapidly.
pre-doctored image from flickr user David Ortmann used under a creative commons license.