Celgene Corporation is a biotech pharmaceutical company known for its discoveries and development of innovative cures for cancer. It recently made a bold business headline when it signed an agreement to buy Impact Biomedicines for a staggering $7 billion, subject to certain milestones associated with regulatory hurdles and sales performance. Impact Biomedicines is a pioneer in the treatment for various types of cancers, specializing in myelofibrosis (MF). The Celgene acquisition, indeed, proves to be a bold move.
The Impact Biomedicines deal was one of the biggest acquisition exit prices in the cancer therapeutics industry, according to various reports. To improve its growth performance, Celgene also acquired healthcare-related startups like Delinia, Anokion, in 2017, and Juno Therapeutics. The past years have not been very good for biotech companies. And these deals are something that biotech companies have been waiting for, analysts revealed.
All About the Future Cure
Celgene is interested in Impact Biomedicines’ fedratinib, a kinase inhibitor, that is a promising possible cure for a specific type of blood cancer known as the myelofibrosis (MF). TargeGen, a company that specializes in vascular biology, developed the drug with scientist and former research chief, John Hood, as co-inventor.
Fedratinib was purchased by French drugmaker Sanofi for a whopping $635 million in 2010, which turned out to be the biggest clinical drug disasters that occurred in the history of the company. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suspended the development process of the drug in 2013 because some patients who were part of the trial group started showing symptoms of a neurological disorder called Wernicke’s encephalopathy (WE)—characterized by the depletion of vitamin B. The pharma giant moved the failed program on the shelf. And that’s where it sat until early 2016, when John Hood decided to start his own company, get the rights back, re-assemble the shattered pieces, and put it together into Impact Biomedicines.
John Hood’s Move for Impact Biomedicines
According to Hood, “The decision to discontinue the development of fedratinib in 2013 was heartbreaking for the patients who were experiencing positive responses while in clinical trials. There are very limited therapeutic options for these patients, and fedratinib was active in most patients when nothing else had worked.”
Impact Biomedicines focused its energy on showcasing fedratinib and getting the FDA to pull back its suspension. This allowed them to get the inhibitor back on track and in a place with Celgene to follow through on their mission of maximizing the potential of the medical drug and make it available to patients with MF. Impact Biomedicines is convinced that the New Jersey-based company will be a great fit considering its impressive contributions to the pharmaceutical industry.
“Because of the very high unmet medical need in myelofibrosis, the Impact team completed a thorough review of the available data, including careful due diligence into the potential cases of WE and I am glad to report that as a result of this effort, the FDA has lifted the clinical hold,” Hood further explained.
Celgene Acquisition and Others
On the topic of the Celgene acquisition, Impact Biomedicines is not the only cancer therapeutics company that was acquired for a hefty price value. Following are some of the startup companies that exited with more than $1B valuation:
- Juno Therapeutics – The Washington-based company focuses on research and development of cellular immunotherapies. Hans Bishop is the CEO of Juno Therapeutics. It was sold for $1.87B and exited on December 19, 2014. Celgene acquired Juno Therapeutics.
- IFM Therapeutics – IFM is a firm that discovers and creates small molecules in order to treat cancer. Gary D. Glick is the CEO of the company. It was sold for $2.3B and exited on August 3, 2017. Bristol Myers Squibb—a biopharmaceutical company in New York that discovers, creates, and delivers medicines for people who have a serious illness—acquired IFM.
- Puma Biotechnology – Headed by Alan H. Auerbach, the company creates and commercializes products to enhance cancer care. Puma Biotechnology was sold for $3.6B and exited on February 11, 2014. Puma Biotechnology went into Initial Public Offering (IPO).
- Acerta Pharma – The Netherlands-based company researches and develops drugs for autoimmune and oncology diseases. Ahmed Hamdy is the CEO of Acerta Pharma. It was sold for $7.3B and exited on December 17, 2015. AstraZeneca—a company in England that manufactures pharmaceutical solutions for diseases like cancer, infection, gastrointestinal and a lot more—acquired Acerta Pharma.
- Stem CentRx – Stem CentRx discovers, creates and commercializes therapies that could cure and enhance the health of people suffering from cancer. Brian Slingerland is the CEO of the company. It was sold for $10.2B and exited on April 28, 2016. Stem CentRx was acquired by AbbVie—a company in Illinois that discovers, creates, and sells both small molecule drugs and biopharmaceuticals.
The Bold Impact of the Celgene Acquisition
Celgene acquisition of Impact Biomedicines worth $7 billion will not just elevate its contribution to the health industry. It will also create a bold solution especially for people who suffer from blood cancers. Based on the reported benefit risk profile of fedratinib from the JAKARTA-1 and JAKARTA-2 clinical trials, regulatory applications in myelofibrosis are planned beginning in the middle of 2018.
“Myelofibrosis is a disease with high unmet medical need as the number of patients who are ineligible for or become resistant to existing therapy continues to increase,” said Nadim Ahmed, President, Hematology and Oncology for Celgene. “We believe fedratinib is uniquely positioned as a potential treatment for myelofibrosis and it provides strategic options for us to build leadership in this disease with luspatercept and other pipeline assets.”