The most anticipated deal of the week – Sanofi Aventis’ multi-billion take-out of Genzyme – has yet to come to fruition. That’s not to say the deal is a no go (wouldn't the aftermath of THAT be fun to watch). Indeed, public statements by the French pharma’s Viehbacher suggest Sanofi still desires the big biotech, but is being measured in its diligence.
The months long saga has been more “he said/he said” than SEC-leaked endearments; still for journos avidly covering the “news” the nothings have been sweet. In advance of Monday's Hallmark holiday, perhaps its time for Viehbacher to dial up the Canadian charm, and send a love letter (containing the desired contingent value rights to Campath/Lemtrada, of course) to Termeer and company. (If the deal goes through, does this makeTermeer Viehbacher's work spouse?)
IN VIVO Blog suggests borrowing a line or two from Robert Browning's famous missive to one lovely Elizabeth Barrett. You know, the one that spawned Sonnets From The Portuguese and the immortal question "How do I love thee?" Perhaps something like this..
I love yourOf course, said fault-finding comes with its own ulterior motives, but whether Sanofi's shareholders will be proud of the outcome depends on the deal's final price tag. In the spirit of reciprocity, we suggest Termeer start counting the ways he loves Sanofi, not least because of the exit package he stands to receive if the deal goes through.
versesdrugs with all my heart, dear Miss BarrettHenri, -- and this is no off-hand complimentary letter that I shall write, --whatever else, no prompt matter-of-course recognition of your genius and there a graceful and natural end of the thing: since the day last weeksummer when I first read your poemsrealized the worth of Cerezyme and Fabrazyme despite the manufacturing snafus, I quite laugh to remember how I have been turning again in my mind what I should be able to tell you of their effect upon me (especially after this recent earnings report) ... Perhaps even, as a loyal fellow-craftsman (and CEO honor-bound to return shareholder value) should, try and find fault and do you some little good to be proud of herafter!
In the interim, if you can't say it with contingent value rights, at least remember to say it with flowers. Oh, and make sure to read another edition of...
Cephalon/Alba Therapeutics: Hours before reporting full-year results on Feb. 10, Cephalon said it signed an option agreement for Alba's treatment of the autoimmune disorder celiac disease. Cephalon will pay $7 million upfront and extend a credit line to Alba to fund a Phase IIb trial of the drug, larazotide acetate. After completion of the study, the Frazier, Pa.-based Cephalon will review results with the option to purchase assets related to the drug for $15 million. Beyond the $22 million in upfront and option fees, Alba is eligible to receive unspecified regulatory and sales milestones should Cephalon bring the drug to market. Celiac disease, also known as sprue, is caused by an autoimmune reaction to the ingestion of gluten, found in certain grain-based products such as bread and pasta. It affects more than 2 million people in the US. Cephalon said on a conference call that is sees significant revenue opportunities for larazotide. The deal is Cephalon's first since founder and CEO Frank Baldino passed away late last year after a four-month medical leave of absence. New CEO Kevin Buchi was previously Cephalon CFO and COO and a longtime colleague of Baldino. -- Lisa LaMotta
Salix/Progenics: Progenics Pharmaceuticals this week found a new development partner in specialty player Salix Pharmaceuticals for its subcutaneous injection to treat opioid-induced constipation, Relistor, one of the casualties of the Pfizer/Wyeth deal. Recall that Wyeth, which initially licensed the compound in 2005, paid Progenics a $10 million break-up fee in 2009 to take back product rights. During an extended transition period, the world’s biggest pharma has continued to sell Relistor via a 1700-member sales force, but 2010 worldwide sales were an anemic $16 million. Thus, the entrance of new suitor Salix via a sweetheart of a deal is undeniably good news for Progenics. As part of the alliance announced February 7, Salix pays $60 million upfront plus milestones for worldwide rights (excluding Japan) to Relistor, and will assume all development, registration, and commercialization costs for the drug. Salix, which only intends to market the drug state side, will also pay Progenics 60% of the revenue earned by contractors on ex-US sales. Salix is confident its GI-focused sales force can fully monetize Relistor’s value, thanks in part to an oral product formulation currently in Phase III development. CEO Carolyn Logan told investors February 7, "Relistor just [did] not receive all the attention it would receive in an organization like ours." – Joseph Haas & Ellen Licking
Pfizer/Ferrosan: From Russia and Norway and Eastern Europe with love? Pfizer’s acquisition February 7 of Danish firm Ferrosan’s consumer health care unit shows diversification is alive and well within the world’s biggest pharma, even as the company pulls back on R&D. Exact financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but sister publication "The Tan Sheet" reports executives from Ferrosan's owner, Altor Equity Partners, said the deal was larger than €100 million ($136 million according to same-day conversion rates); analysts with UBS Investment Research, meanwhile, assume a price around $600 million based on Ferrosan's recent yearly sales figures. The deal gives Pfizer some key brands -- including Multi-tabs multivitamins, Bifiform probiotics and the Imedeen skin care supplement line – in Nordic countries as well as the rapidly growing market of Russia. More importantly, it expands Pfizer’s global footprint, allowing for the expanded distribution of its own nutritional brands, such as Centrum multivitamins and Caltrate calcium and vitamin D supplements. – Elizabeth Crawford
Danaher/Beckman Coulter: The big deal of the week was diversified med-tech play Danaher’s $6.8 billion acquisition of Beckman Coulter, which has struggled to get its testing business back on track after an FDA-triggered withdrawal of its cardiac troponin test last spring. The sale isn’t unexpected; following the resignation of Beckman CEO Scott Garrett in September 2010 and ongoing quality issues, speculation about a possible deal has been rampant since December, when it was widely repored the firm had retained Goldman Sachs. Nor is it surprising that Danaher is the ultimate buyer; Beckman is not known as a particularly innovative company and has been very slow to move into the molecular diagnostics space. It therefore makes sense that its assets, heavily centered on consumables and services in clinical chemistry, would be of greater interest to a company like Danaher, a noted acquirer of established instrumentation plays. In addition to pushing forward with ongoing clinical trials supporting two 510(ks) required for the market reentry of Beckman’s AccuTn1 troponin test, Danaher’s other main priority as the testing firm’s new owner will be completing quality control fixes and cutting $250 million in costs. – Jon Dobson
Optimer/Astellas: Promising new Phase III data surrounding its antibiotic candidate fidaxomicin has Optimer Pharmaceuticals preparing for a possible summertime launch of the drug, pending approval and a PDUFA date of May 30. While Optimer intends to keep the drug in-house in the US, the San Diego biotech has partnered with Astellas to advance and commercialize the drug in Europe, selected Middle Eastern and African nations, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. (In addition to US rights, the biotech has for now also retained Asian rights, although it may partner those territories soon.) Astellas paid $68 million up-front for the rights to fidaxomicin, with a further $156 million in milestone payments and tiered sales royalties that range above 20%. Optimer is positioning fidaxomicin as a first-line treatment for patients at risk of recurrence of C. difficile infections, which cause severe diarrhea often in hospitalized patients and those who have received other antibiotic treatments that have disrupted the balance of flora living in the gut. Robert W. Baird analyst Thomas Russo pegged the market for the drug at nearly $250 million annually by 2018. – Paul Bonanos
Needy Candy Hearts image courtesy of flickrer piratejohnny