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Daily Brief: Takeda seals $62bn Shire deal, Autolus IPO, Gottlieb warning

A rapid round-up of the top pharma, biotech and healthcare news

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Hello there, we’re back in action after yesterday’s UK Bank Holiday, which proved to be the hottest ever on record, reaching up to 28.7°c.

For those of you here who were sweltering in the heat over the long weekend, here’s a quick re-cap of the top news from the last few days, and some expected highlights from the week ahead.

We hope you like our daily round-up of the essential news. We’ve changed the name to Daily Brief to better reflect its global reach, regardless of which time zone you’re in.

Takeda seals $62 billion takeover of Shire

After nearly six weeks of public wooing of Shire and its shareholders, Takeda has sealed a £46bn ($62bn) deal to acquire the company.

The merger will create a company with revenues of $31 billion, making it one of the sector’s top 10 - but the size of the outlay and the rationale behind the deal has left many analysts cold.

Christophe Weber

Takeda’s Chief Executive Christophe Weber (pictured) will now have to demonstrate that the outlay can bring returns for shareholders of both companies. Takeda is looking for new growth outside its home market of Japan as patent expirations and drug pricing pressures trim its profits there.  However, Shire has fallen from favour with investors over the last 12 months, as competition against key therapy franchises such as haemophilia, and failure of earlier M&A deals to lift prospects have dragged down sentiment.

In order to finance the deal, Takeda has secured a bridge loan facility of $31bn with a number of banks, and the closing of the deal pleased the markets, with both companies seeing their share price rise this morning.

Shire’s highly complementary product portfolio and pipeline, as well as experienced employees, “will accelerate our transformation for a stronger Takeda”, commented Weber. “Together, we will be a leader in providing targeted treatments in gastroenterology, neuroscience, oncology, rare diseases and plasma-derived therapies. We are looking forward to the benefits this combination will bring to patients worldwide, the opportunities it will bring for our employees and the returns it will deliver for our shareholders.”

Tecentriq gets fast track review for lung cancer

Merck & Co. could have some direct competition in front line treatment of lung cancer within six months, with the FDA announcing a fast-track review of Roche’s Tecentriq, Avastin and chemotherapy. Read more

Autolus cues up NASDAQ launch


Next-generation cell therapy company Autolus has confirmed that it will launch an initial public offering (IPO), with expectations of raising more than $100m.

The biotech company is one of the brightest prospects of the UK biotech sector, thanks to its promising technology CAR-T and TCR technologies. This includes pipeline programmes which can hit multiple targets, a candidate for multiple myeloma, solid tumours and CAR-T drugs which can be switched off in the event of severe side-effects.

The company also recently presented data on a novel glycosphingolipid GD2-targeting programmed T cell product candidate in paediatric patients with neuroblastoma.

Stern words from Gottlieb on drug prices ahead of Trump speech

Scott Gottlieb

Scott Gottlieb continues to break the mould of what FDA Commissioners speak about, last week making another frank appraisal of US drug pricing.

“Let’s face it. Right now, we don’t have a truly free market when it comes to drug pricing, and in too many cases, that’s driving prices to unaffordable levels for some patients,” he said.

Pointing to numerous factors contributing to the problem, he reserved particular ire for the drug rebate system between pharma and pharmacy benefit managers - which he even suggested could be reclassified as bribes under the existing Anti-Kickback Statute.

Gottlieb also criticised what he called the “web of rules and restrictions - some implemented as a result of industry lobbying” which “prevent truly market-based pricing and competition”.

These remarks are likely to be a curtain raiser to much anticipated announcements from President Trump and Health Secretary Alex Azar, who promised decisive change to drive down US drug prices.  Trump is expected to make his speech sometime this week - but sceptics think the President’s policies may once again fail to match his ‘fire and fury’ rhetoric.

Read Scott Gottlieb’s speech in full

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

8th May 2018

From: Sales



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