Celgene confirms rumours, with $9bn deal for Juno

pharmafile | January 22, 2018 | News story | Manufacturing and Production, Sales and Marketing CAR-T, Celgene, biotech, drugs, juno therapeutics, pharma, pharmaceutical 

It seems like 2018 may well be the year for M&A that everyone had expected, as two major deals on the same day announced that acquisitions were back with a bang.

First, Sanofi managed to achieve a long-held goal of making a sizeable addition to its business and now Celgene has made the plunge to acquire Juno Therapeutics in a $9 billion deal.

If the former deal came as something of a surprise, the same could not be said for Celgene’s move; it had been rumoured that Celgene was taking a close look at Juno, with the ties between the two making such talk inevitable.

Celgene, like Sanofi, was known to be in the market, as Revlimid faces competition and likely declining sales in 2022. It had to find a way to generate new means of growth and it has settled on its pre-existing partner, Juno, as the means to achieve that – alongside its potential $7 billion deal for Impact Biomedicines.

Celgene had previously held a stake in Juno, owning close to 10% of the company’s share.

The deal sees Celgene get its hands on JCAR017, a CAR-T therapy that has been designed to treat relapsed and/or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Analysts predict that the treatment could see peak sales of $3 billion.

“The acquisition of Juno builds on our shared vision to discover and develop transformative medicines for patients with incurable blood cancers,” said Mark J. Alles, Celgene’s Chief Executive Officer. “Juno’s advanced cellular immunotherapy portfolio and research capabilities strengthen Celgene’s global leadership in haematology and adds new drivers for growth beyond 2020.”

Celgene and Juno still have some way to catch up with market leaders, in Novartis and Gilead – with both having already receives approvals for their treatments, Kymriah and Yescarta, respectively. Some, however, have Juno’s treatment pegged as a potential market leader and, though it will arrive late to the party, many believe that the CAR-T field is still at a nascent stage that may well explode beyond its current position.

For Celgene, as Alles mentions, this is both a short-term prospect of acquiring a well-developed treatment and a foot in the door to be one of the major players in a developing field of science over the next decade.

Ben Hargreaves

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