Friday, November 06, 2009

DotW: Sesame Street

In case you failed to run a Google search this week, you may not have realized that on Tuesday Nov. 10, Sesame Street turns 40. You gotta admit, the show doesn't look a day over five--and that's without Botox.

If you've forgotten how to get to Sesame Street, we have a few reminders--and ear worms-- appropriately tailored for the biopharma industry--hey, it's our version of personalized medicine and it doesn't require a companion diagnostic.

1. Baby We Were Born To Add: For all the CFO types who reported earnings this week--from King, Biovail, Acorda, Facet, Crucell, and dozens of others (25-plus on Thursday alone).

2. It's Not Easy Being Big (er, I mean) Green: In honor of Merck's Dick Clark and Pfizer's Jeff Kindler, of course. And for you Wyeth and Schering types, Kermit offers the definitive explanation on why size matters.

3. Soliloquy on B: For all those biotechs with less than 6 months of cash who are pondering whether 'tis better to--you guessed it--be or not to be.

4. Get Along: Our legislators--Republicans and Democrats not martians and muppets--working to pass a health care reform bill. (GSK and Pfizer execs you can skip this one. The creation of ViiV suggests you've already learned this lesson. We're waiting for the ophthalmology collaboration.)

5. ABC-DEF-GHI: Maybe Big Bird can explain what I. P. O. means to biotech investors. Alimera and Aldagen can only hope.

6. Near and Far: For any biotech exec mulling an acquisition tied to earn-outs. Hint: if you are having trouble seeing the relevance, substitute 'upfront' for 'near' and 'earn-out' for 'far'--or read this amusing rant.

7. Ma Nah Ma Na: Biotech and Big Pharma CEOs who need to change the subject fast when dogged by a reporter. Start singing this, and the press will be crooning "doobie do" along with you.

8. Honker Duckie Dinger Jamboree: Because JP Morgan is only two months away. It's the latest; it's the greatest; it's the only place to be.

9. Just the Way You Are: For Roger Longman, from the IN VIVO Blog Staff.

This week's edition is brought to you courtesy of the letters D, O, T, W, and the number 4.

Roche/Alnylam: Roche’s willingness to pay $331 million up front for access to RNAi pioneer Alylam’s technologies two years ago raised eyebrows because of its price tag and generous (at least for Alnylam) non-exclusivity provisions. Now the companies say they are pleased with their progress and ready to move into the next phase of their relationship: a collaboration to jointly discover and develop specific RNAi compounds for select therapeutic areas, using a shared potpourri of experimental delivery technologies to move the chosen RNAi drugs to their targets. Commercial rights in the US will also be shared, and, ex-US, Alnylam gets royalties and additional milestones. Alnylam has become the poster-child for how to do business development right: although it is an early stage company, its deal-making savvy, expertise in a young and rising field, and IP have enabled it to snare at least three deals with Big Pharma potentially worth billions of dollars. But it's hard to tell whether any more deals like this one with Roche are in Alnylam's future. Most Big Pharma interested in RNAi have already placed their bets and Alnylam's prices are out of reach for nearly all smaller players. Too bad. Looks like there won't be a repeat Deal of the Year for Alnylam this time around.--Wendy Diller

Takeda/Amylin: In recent months, Big Pharma has resisted the urge to gobble up obesity compounds, leaving the market littered with late-stage, unpartnered assets. But on Nov. 1, Takeda announced it was teaming up with Amylin, taking two obesity candidates off the table: pramlintide/metreleptin and davalintide. For Takeda, the deal is an opportunity to build on its heritage in diabetes and metabolic disease, and the price tag shows its desperation. Depending on how the research progresses, the drugs could help fill the holes left by setbacks with the company's DPP-IV inhibitor alogliptin and the genericization of Actos. Under the arrangement, Amylin will receive $75 million upfront and development and sales milestones that could total more than $1 billion. (Near and far, people.) Amylin is also eligible for double-digit royalties on sales. Importantly, Amylin gets someone else to foot what is sure to be a pricey development bill for two drugs that will probably need cardiovascular outcomes studies. Amylin will be responsible for development of potential candidates through Phase II for regulatory approval in the U.S., while Takeda will lead development beyond Phase II in the U.S. and all development outside the U.S.--Jessica Merrill

Biovitrum/Swedish Orphan: Swedish company Biovitrum got in on the deal-making action just one week after unloading its drug discovery unit, Cambridge Biotechnology (CBT) and a number of its own drug development programs to Proximagen Neuroscience. Cuz really who needs drug discovery when you can market a portfolio of 60 orphan/hyper-specialist products? Yep, that's what Biovitrum is buying, having made the decision to plunk $501.59 million down to access Swedish Orphan in a transaction that included a modest earn-out. The move completes Biovitrum's evolution in the specialist direction; Swedish Orphan is one of those new "rare disease players" with two proprietary drugs, Multiferon and Orfadin, along with a diverse in-licensing portfolio of another 50 products. Therapeutic areas include oncology, metabolic disorders, hematology, infectious diseases, urology/nephrology, and emergency medicines. Given Big Pharma's suddenly got religion about playing in the ultraniche disease space--remember GSK's tie-up with Prosensa?--it's interesting to speculate on the deal terms, especially the upfront cash. A competitive bidding process or just PE backers unwilling to accept those terms? The combined company, which will go by the name Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (The name recalls a certain Swedish chef--sorry, wrong group of muppets) forecasts sales of over SEK 5 billion (roughly $716.30 million ) by 2015, with an EBIT margin of over 30% based on its current portfolio and pipeline. Check back with IN VIVO Blog later for a more detailed discussion of the deal.--Ellen Licking

AstraZeneca/Micromet: Your "No deal" deal of the week has been one months in the making. Remember when AstraZeneca/MedImmune opted out of a codevelopment deal for Micromet's blinatumomab, an antibody being studied in hematological cancers. The March deal gave MedImmune the option to reacquire North American commercialization rights if the antibody won FDA approval. At the time, neither company detailed why AZ was exiting the collaboration, but Micromet's CEO Christian Itin speculated the antibody's therapeutic focus on rare malignancies might not be seen as enough of a lucrative opportunity to merit the Big Pharma's attention. (Clearly AZ didn't get the message about ultraniche diseases.) Now the staged divorce is complete (and you thought staged acquisitions were all the rage.) On November 5, Micromet announced it had bought out MedImmune's option on the North American commercialization rights to blinatumomab, bringing an end to a partnership that began in 2003. To regain full rights to its lead program, Bethesda, Md.-based Micromet will pay MedImmune a $6.5 million upfront fee, undisclosed regulatory and strategic milestones and low single-digit royalties on North American sales of blinatumomab should the Phase II mAB reach the market. --Joe Haas

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