J&J, Astex ink potential $500 million deal for cancer research
LONDON Astex Therapeutics has signed a cancer drug research deal with Johnson & Johnson that can potentially be worth more than $500 million in milestone payments, according to Reuters.
Astex will receive upfront payments, cash and equity payment and research funding of $37.4 million over two years under the agreement. Total payments, excluding royalties, would be worth over $500 million to Astex, assuming one product from each program is successfully commercialized in all territories, Astex said.
The deal grants a worldwide license to J&J’s Janssen unit to develop and commercialize compounds arising from Astex’s Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor inhibitor program and establishes a novel drug discovery program focused on two further cancer drug targets. FGFR activates a biochemical pathway that promotes cell growth and is thought to play a role in multiple myeloma, breast, prostate, colon and bladder cancers.
Astex also has deals with other big drug companies like, Novartis, AstraZeneca, Bayer and Boehringer Ingelheim.
Ipsen to acquire Tercica in $663 million deal
NEW YORK Paris-based pharmaceutical company Ipsen is buying Brisbane, Calif.-based biotechnology company Tercica for $663 million, or $9 a share.
Ipsen was already a major shareholder in Tercica, and the deal puts it in control of the remaining shares. It hopes to use the deal to expand operations in the U.S.
Ipsen will also buy British drugmaker Vernalis’ U.S. subsidiary and has acquired rights to Octagen’s experimental hemophilia drug OBI-1.
Taro tries to cancel deal with Sun
MUMBAI, India In response to Taro announcing that it was canceling a merger agreement with Sun Pharmaceuticals, Sun chairman Dilip Shanghvi fired off a letter telling the drugmaker it cannot exit the deal.
After a year in which Taro’s finances rebounded from red to black, the company said it wanted out of its deal with Sun because the deal did not reflect its improved performance. In response, Shanghvi expresses disappointment that Taro made its announcement without engaging in meaningful dialogue. He also points out that Taro had only $47 million in cash as of March 31 and, without Sun’s infusions of cash last year, “Taro would have virtually negative cash—hardly the ‘dramatic’ improvement of which Taro has boasted.”
Last May, Sun agreed to acquire Taro for $454 million. Some stockholders objected to the agreement’s $7.75 per share offer and petitioned the Tel Aviv District Court for a temporary injunction, which the court never issued, to prevent Taro from harming minority shareholders.
After Taro reported net sales of approximately $313 million and a gross profit of nearly $168 million for 2007, the company’s board of directors unanimously voted to cancel the merger agreement, saying the company’s improved financials made Sun’s offer inadequate. The move came even after Sun purportedly offered to raise the merger price to $10.25 per share, according to Taro.
In light of Taro’s actions, Sun is considering its options, including commencing legal proceedings, Shanghvi says, adding that he is available to discuss a negotiated transaction with Taro.