Aug 3 Personalized Medicine

The Business Cocktail

Allergan can finally sell its losing stake in Teva. Will it?

Allergan, which acquired a 9.9% stake in the Israeli drugmaker last year as part of the pair’s $40 billion-plus generics deal, currently stands as Teva’s largest shareholder. Those shares, worth $5.3 billion when Allergan acquired them, have been locked down for the last year, with Allergan unable to sell them, Israeli newspaper Globes reports. And in that time, they’ve dropped more than $2 billion in value to $3.2 billion. As of Wednesday, though, Allergan—which has said it wasn’t a “long-term holder” of Teva’s stock—can do as it pleases. So far, it hasn’t said whether it plans to dump the stake this year, with CFO Maria Teresa Hilado telling shareholders on February’s fourth-quarter 2016 earnings call that “in August we will evaluate whether we would sell.” If it does, though, Teva could be in for even more pain than it’s already faced in the two years since it said it’d be snapping up Allergan’s generics unit, Actavis. Between then and now, shares have plunged 55% as skepticism over that deal, a botched buy of Mexico’s Rimsa, badly missed sales forecasts, a slew of exec exits and more took their toll. The result? Teva’s market cap currently sits at around $31.49 billion, less than the company paid for Actavis in the first place.

AstraZeneca, Merck team up on Lynparza combos in collaboration worth up to $8.5B

Cancer drug Lynparza has been one of AstraZeneca’s biggest hopes amid generic competition for its blockbuster statin Crestor and spotty results for its pipeline. But now, Merck & Co. has snapped up half the rights to Lynparza in an $8.5 billion deal, $1.6 billion up front and the rest contingent on sales and regulatory milestones, plus potential licensing payments worth up to $750 million. It’s an ongoing partnership that includes co-development of the medication with AstraZeneca’s checkpoint inhibitor Imfinzi, a fourth-to-market therapy which just fell short in a lung cancer combo trial, and Merck’s Keytruda, which is among the top drugs in the same class. AstraZeneca’s pipeline drug selumetinib, a MEK inhibitor, and related combinations also come along. AstraZeneca billed the partnership as a way to extend Lynparza’s reach by racking up new indications and developing combo cocktails. Keytruda, after all, zoomed to blockbuster status, and combining that PD-1 drug with the AstraZeneca PARP inhibitor could hitch Lynparza to those coattails.

Roche’s deep discount for MS drug Ocrevus pays off big for Swiss drug maker

Roche caught the market by surprise when it priced its highly touted new multiple sclerosis drug Ocrevus at a 25% discount to the competition. Roche’s gambit has surprised again, with Ocrevus winning immediate uptake and generating $200 million in its first quarter on the market. The drug appears to have outperformed Roche’s estimates because the drug maker today said it has decided to raise its 2017 forecast. It wasn’t Ocrevus alone that prompted Roche to up its guidance. Newer cancer drugs Tecentriq and Perjeta also performed well, with Perjeta sales up 17% to CHF 1.1 billion in the first half (PDF)  of the year and Tecentriq adding CHF 237 million, up 19%. Pharmaceuticals sales for H1 were up 5% to CHF 20.5 billion. Ocrevus, approved in March, came to the market with all of the elements that would have allowed Roche to price it at a premium to other drugs in the market.

Chinese API maker receives a warning letter from French regulatory agency, and a recall

French drug regulators slapped Chinese API maker Chongqing Succeway Pharmaceutical with a warning letter and issued a recall following an inspection last month. In the notice posted on the European Medicines Agency GMP website, the French National Agency for Medicines and Health Products said inspectors found a total of 22 issues with the facility located in Chongqing, China. The latest inspection was on June 24. Of the total issues, one was classified as critical and three as major. The problems included manipulation, backdating and falsification of documents such as batch manufacturing record, report of starting material manufacturer audit, GC and HPLC chromatograms. The major issue was an undeclared workshop “without any traceability of the activities undertaken” while the two major issues included undeclared storage of unidentified product and poor standards for maintaining batch manufacturing records. The agency called for a recall of all batches of rilmenidine dihydrogen phosphate, which is used in making drugs to treat hypertension.

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