It's J.P. Morgan time. And as the immortal James Brown sang (or did he shout): "Get on up, Get on up. Stay on the scene, like a hype machine."
Okay, so the lyrics were a tad different. But you get the point. The impending JPM meeting is THE industry confab, and if ever our industry needed a little boost of hype--kind of like Botox--it's now.
A report in Friday's VentureWire confirms what START-UP readers already knew: venture capital needs a plan B. Meanwhile, companies such as Wyeth and Merck are ramping up their diversification spin, in part because of the continued troubles associated with bringing traditional pharmaceuticals to market.
Perhaps it was the holiday break...or perhaps companies felt the need to generate their own buzz ahead of JPM, but IVB couldn't help but notice a torrent of deal-making news this week. (Maybe folks want to get an early start on IVB's 2009 Deal of the Year Award.) Not to toot our own horn, but we weren't just ahead of the news, we made news with the signing of Pharmalot blogger, Ed Silverman. Consider this your official welcome, Ed.
We suspect the JPM presentations of Wyeth, Genentech and Roche will also be packed. Genentech and Roche because people are still itching to know if the biggest potential deal of 2008 will actually come to fruition in 2009. Wyeth because of news leaked earlier this week indicating its interest in vaccine maker Crucell.
UCB/Wilex: In a deal structure that might best be described as double-jointed, Belgian pharma UCB and German oncology-focused biotech Wilex have entered a risk-sharing partnership in which Wilex will develop UCB’s preclinical oncology pipeline with UCB holding repurchase rights for each program. Under the terms, UCB has granted the rights to five preclinical oncology programs to a new legal entity wholly owned by UCB and funded with €10 million. Wilex, in turn, will acquire the entity in a process that involves issuing about 1.8 million new shares. As a result of the deal, UCB will own 13 percent of Wilex. UCB can buy back the programs after first clinical feasibility studies finish, and take over development and commercialization, in which case Wilex would get milestone payments and royalties. If UCB opts not to re-purchase, Wilex keeps rights and pays milestones plus royalties to UCB.
The shrewd risk-and-cost-sharing arrangement helps UCB handle its delay of the rheumatoid arthritis drug Cimzia, stalled earlier this month by a complete response letter from FDA. UCB said the collaboration will enable it to focus on its own R&D priorities, especially central nervous system and immunology therapies. Reminiscent of prior deals between Genentech and Xoma and Lilly’s risk- and reward-sharing deal with India’s Nicholas Piramal, the UCB/Wilex tie-up may provide a template for future deal-making in the industry--Joseph Haas.
Endo/Indevus: Endo’s $370 million acquisition of Indevus will enable the former to move into new therapeutic areas while helping the latter get its hypogonadism injectable, Nebido, to the finish line at FDA. Nebido, a long-acting testosterone product, has been held up at FDA due to safety concerns about injection-related cough. Endo's purchase involves more than half of the $632.9 million it had on hand as of Sept. 30, and also calls for $267 million in milestones. The goal of the combined company is to create a specialty powerhouse, with sales force teams dominating in three areas: urology, enodcrinology, and pain. Currently Endo markets overactive bladder therapies Sanctura and Sanctura XM, advanced prostate cancer drug Vantas, central precocious puberty drug Supprelin LA, and hypogonadism product Delatestryl. Indevus plans to resubmit its NDA for Nebido by the end of this quarter and says FDA ultimately will be comfortable with the drug’s risk-reward profile--Randall Osborne.