We’ve returned to review the leading deals in biopharma after a spring break. Whilst we were away a number of significant deals took place, including UK biotech’s C4XD $294 million deal with Indivior around a preclinical-stage drug addiction therapy and two immuno-oncology deals—one involving Boehringer and OSE Immunotherapeutics for a novel preclinical-stage checkpoint inhibitor, potentially worth $1.4 billion, and one between AstraZeneca and Compugen to develop antibody therapies, potentially valued at more than $200 million. There were also some high-value acquisitions in the past week, which we focus on below.
On April 9, Novartis announced that it will acquire gene therapy company AveXis for $8.7 billion. The company has a number of adeno-associated viral (AAV)-based gene therapies in development for life-threatening neurological diseases, including a phase 3 candidate AVXS-101 for spinal muscular atrophy that is expected to be approved and launched in the US in 2019. Novartis will also gain AveXis’ gene therapy manufacturing unit through the deal, giving it a strong foothold in the AAV field to complement its current strengths in CAR-T therapy.
Following this, on April 11, Alexion Pharmaceuticals announced that it is to acquire Wilson Therapeutics for $855 million. Alexion will gain the phase 3 candidate WTX101 from Wilson, which is an oral copper-binding therapy for Wilson’s disease, a rare genetic disorder with hepatic and neurological effects. Alexion is already a major company in the rare diseases field with several marketed products, such as the multi-blockbuster Soliris (eculizumab) franchise for diseases including paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria.
Finally, yesterday Servier announced that it is to purchase the oncology business from Shire Pharmaceuticals, which has recently been attracting attention as a potential acquisition target for Takeda. The deal will position Servier with a greater presence in the US market, with oncology products including Oncaspar (pegaspargase), a treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and to Onivyde (irinotecan pegylated liposomal formulation)(ex-US rights only), indicated for metastatic pancreatic cancer. Calaspargase pegol, which has been filed for regulatory approval for the treatment of ALL, is also included in the deal. Last year the oncology business reportedly generated revenues of $262 million.