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Mysterious big pharma company eyes US biotech Acceleron

Speculation is running high that a major pharma company will make a move on Massachusetts-based pulmonary and haematology biotech Acceleron this week

The identity of the mystery big pharma company making a move on Cambridge-Massachusetts-based biotech Acceleron has yet to be confirmed but the US media is pointing to either Merck/MSD or Bristol Myers Squibb.

Acceleron’s focus is on the research, development and commercialisation of treatments in pulmonary and haematologic diseases with drugs that engage the ‘TGF-beta superfamily’, involved in the body’s ability to regulate cellular growth and repair.

The merger rumours started late last week when it was reported that a large pharma group was close to agreeing a $180 per share bid that would value Acceleron at $11bn. This report suggested BMS – which owns 11.5% of Acceleron's stock – as the most likely bidder, but later reports in US newspaper pointed to Merck/MSD as the mysterious buyer.

The company has one marketed drug, Reblozyl (luspatercept-aamt), approved in the US, EU and Canada for the treatment of anaemia in certain blood disorders. The drug is part of a long-standing global collaboration with Celgene, now part of Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS).

Sales of Reblozyl have been growing since its launch in 2019 – BMS reported $240m in the first half of 2021, with Acceleron claiming its share of $48m.

However, US media is reporting that ‘Acceleron’s crown jewel’ is in fact sotatercept, a first-in-class therapeutic fusion protein that recently produced positive top-line results in the phase 2 PULSAR clinical trial in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

PAH is already a multibillion-dollar market – in 2017, Johnson & Johnson paid $30bn for Swiss drugmaker Actelion including its PAH drugs, while PAH drugs collectively made $1.7bn in worldwide sales in the first six months of this year.

The timing could be perfect for a move on Acceleron as the company is planning multiple phase 3 trials to support its long-term vision of establishing sotatercept as a backbone therapy for patients with PAH at all stages of the disease.

In pulmonology, Acceleron also has an early-stage candidate, ACE-1334, that is expected to move into phase 1b/phase 2, focused on systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD) later this year

The FDA has awarded sotatercept breakthrough designation and the EMA has given it priority status in recognition of its potential to address the underlying disease process in PAH.

Article by
Hugh Gosling

28th September 2021

From: Sales

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