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Biogen announces acquisition along with financials, but it’s tiny

Published on 26/01/18 at 08:44am

Biogen is one those companies, like Sanofi until its recent Bioverativ acquisition, that has real pressure to make a big acquisition. Now that the tax incentives to bring money over from abroad have been brought through, the pressure just ramped up for the biotech.

Not least, because of the aforementioned Sanofi deal and the Celgene deal that were also announced on the same day – the excitement around M&A potentially gearing up again has many people excited and that’s bound to have more eyes focused on the moves Biogen could make.

It’s unfortunate that Biogen took the opportunity of its fourth-quarter revenue postings to reveal that it had made a $10 million deal to buy Karyopharm’s drug candidate, KPT-350. True, the deal could well add up to $217 million but that’s dependent on milestones and isn’t exactly the sums that some investors are clamouring for.

Biogen is sitting on around $37 billion in cash reserves so the paltry sum paid for Karyopharm’s asset will not do much for the calls to invest that cash. However, the purchase does fit nicely into the company’s neurology portfolio and Karyopharm revealed that it wasn’t the only candidate that was picked up as part of the deal, identifying “other assets targeting certain neurological conditions” that came as part of the package.

The main candidate, KPT-350, is an IND-ready oral SINE compound that showed in pre-clinical trials the potential for use in neurological and inflammatory conditions, with the capacity to penetrate the blood-brain barrier.

“We believe that, as a global innovative leader in neuroscience that brings world-class capabilities in developing and commercializing products targeting a broad range of neurological conditions, Biogen is well suited to further advance the development of KPT-350,” said Michael G. Kauffman, Chief Executive Officer of Karyopharm. “This transaction is part of our broader strategy of partnering our non-oncology assets while we focus on our primary objective of executing the development of oral selinexor, our lead oncology candidate, pursuing regulatory approval in the United States and European Union, and transitioning toward a commercial-stage enterprise.”

The acquisition actually acted as something of distraction away from the results the biotech actually released, which beat expectations for the year. Spinraza was approved for spinal muscular atrophy in December 2016 and managed to bring in $363 million in the fourth quarter alone. Overall, it recorded revenue of $3.31 billion for the fourth quarter.

Ben Hargreaves

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