Friday, November 16, 2007

Deals of the Week: The Break Up to Make Up Edition

Break up to make up, that's all we do
First you love me then you hate me, that's a game for fools.

Has Carl Icahn soured on BiogenIdec, the biotech that last month offered itself up to the largest bidder only to find--so far--no takers? Appears so. His new interest, as we wrote about here, is Genzyme. Maybe. So, in honor of Icahn's roving eye--and to celebrate a possible fairy tale ending for Roche and Ventana Medical Systems--IN VIVO Blog brings you the latest Deals of the Week: The Break Up to Make Up Edition.

First the break ups:
  • Pfizer/Nektar: Tired of dismal sales and bong jokes, Pfizer announced last month that its marriage to inhaled insulin developer Nektar Therapeutics was over. Now comes the divorce settlement. In a joint statement issued Tuesday Nov. 13, the two companies announced they have “resolved all outstanding contractual issues." As part of the deal, Nektar gets full rights to Exubera and a cool $135 million for its faith in Pfizer's marketing genius. In addition, Pfizer will continue to support on-going Phase IV clinical trials, while Nektar shops the product around. Just one day later, at a media R&D love fest, Nektar's CEO Howard Robin told the press that he was "very very pleased" with the deal. "[Pfizer CEO] Jeff Kindler and I spent a lot of time on this arrangement and we remain friends to this day," he said. Aww, how sweet. Bet the folks working on the two companies' Phase II partnership for a pegylated human growth hormone are relieved the split was amicable. We'll have more on the future of inhaled insulin in an upcoming IN VIVO article. Meantime check out this story from our May issue, which highlights many of marketing and clinical challenges associated with Exubera.

  • AZ/ Infinity: This week Infinity and MedImmune (now a wholly owned division of AZ) also called it quits, partially, nixing their agreement to develop small molecule inhibitors of the Hedgehog cell-signaling pathway (the firms' collaboration around Hsp90 continues). As part of the un-deal, which is the result of some change-of-control-provision-inspired negotiations, Infinity gets back rights to the lead candidate, IPI-926, and AZ/MedImmune agrees to shoulder 50% of the development costs through mid-2008. Infinity can also opt-in on AZ's own Hedgehog program through initiation of Phase III trials. Here's the press release.

  • Novartis/Speedel: OMG did they break up? Okay, it's not really fair to call the recent dispute over Tekturna/Rasilez payments a break-up. Think of it as a lover's spat. The two companies made news Thursday Nov. 15 when Speedel cried foul, saying it hadn't received monies related to the new blood pressure drug. In what quickly escalated to a "he said, she said" scenario, Novartis issued a statement saying it believed it had fully complied with its reporting duties to Speedel. Alice Huxley, Speedel's CEO, is confident the two companies will be able to work things out: "We trust that this disagreement can be amicably resolved as soon as possible," she said. From Speedel's point of view, they'll need to make up soon. The company expects to burn through 75 million euros in 2007 so it could do with an infusion of cash. (To get Novartis's perspective on Speedel, check out this interview with CEO Dan Vasella from earlier this spring.)

Life was rosier in device land, where we highlight these match-ups from the week:

  • NeuroMetrix/Cyberkinetics: The two companies announced the formation of a JV to develop and commercialize a product for peripheral nerve injury based on Cyberkinetic’s Andara electrical stimulation therapy. For NeuroMetrix, which has struggled to develop non-invasive diagnostics for peripheral neuropathy, the JV gives it entrĂ©e into the neurostimulation area. For Cyberkinetics, the deal allows it to expand its use of Andara beyond the ultra-niche market of acute spinal cord injuries. Under the terms of the deal, NeuroMetrix will provide up to $2 million to fund the first two years of the joint venture and has first rights to commercialize the Andara platform for spinal injuries, as well as the inside-track if it decides to purchase Cyberkinetics. (For more background on the two companies look here and here.)

  • Synthes/N Spine: Synthes has a whole lotta love for the medical device maker N Spine (profiled in the July/August issue of START-UP). This week, Synthes announced it was spending $30 million up-front and as much as $45 million in milestones and earn-outs to acquire the ortho start-up, which develops fusion and stabilization motion-preservation devices for the lumbar spine. Other terms of the deal, including the date of closing, were not disclosed.

  • Pfizer/Coley: Finally, back to biopharma, where the word just came across the wire that Pfizer is buying Coley Pharmaceuticals for $8/share, or $164 million. Consider this the bonus make up and break up deal. The writing was on the wall that Coley was on the block since June, when Pfizer backed out of a deal the two companies had on a lung cancer therapy. The reason? An independent data safety monitoring committee's verdict that a mid-trial analysis suggests the compound plus chemotherapy works no better than chemo alone. Since then the firm has been trading at a market value not too different than the value of its cash on hand. We'll try to have more on this deal after the companies' conference call.

No comments: