Early October Sees Torrid Pace of Biotech M&A—Will It Continue?

Pictured: American cash shaped into a funnel/iStock, alexfiodorov

Pictured: American cash shaped into a funnel/iStock, alexfiodorov

When it comes to biotech M&A, the rumor mill can be hit-or-miss. Case in point: Following rumors last week of a potential acquisition of Mirati Therapeutics by Sanofi, days later Bristol Myers Squibb ultimately emerged as the victor, paying $4.8 billion for Mirati’s oncology-focused assets.

Following a sluggish summer of deals, we’ve seen a string of buyouts. But will this trend continue?

So far, the first two weeks of October have seen a flurry of activity with four deals worth about $6.7 billion in total. While BMS’s $4.8 billion buy of Mirati was the by far the biggest, this month we also saw AbbVie acquire neurodegenerative disease-focused Mitokinin for $110 million, Eli Lilly’s $1.4 billion purchase of radiopharmaceutical company Point Biopharma and Kyowa Kirin’s $387 million acquisition of gene therapy developer Orchard Therapeutics.   

While there’s been a recent uptick in deals, bankruptcy among biotechs is also on the rise. In fact, 2023 has seen a record high number of biotech bankruptcies, BioSpace reported this week—along with a spike in the number of cases in the past couple of years.  Among the drivers: the post-COVID economy, a shift toward data-driven financing activity and inflation rates.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, one company that continues its upward financial trajectory is Novo Nordisk, fueled by diabetes drug Ozempic and weight-loss medication Wegovy. On Friday, the Danish drugmaker for the third time this year raised its full-year sales guidance. Earlier this week, Novo halted a Phase III kidney outcomes study of semaglutide—the active ingredient in Ozempic and Wegovy—ahead of schedule due to strong efficacy signals. 

It was not welcome news for DaVita, one of the largest providers of kidney care services in the U.S. On Thursday, the dialysis giant raised concerns over Novo’s interim analysis of the kidney outcomes study of semaglutide, pointing to the potentially limited applicability of the findings.

Davita contends that only patients with both type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease (CKD) who had previously received standard therapies, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers, were eligible for enrollment in Novo’s study. “Fewer than 10% of all current CKD patients” could satisfy this combination of factors, according to Davita. Regardless, the company said it is still “nearly impossible” to draw definitive conclusions from the Novo study.

Alnylam this week was penalized for not providing enough evidence of its therapy’s benefit. Despite winning the backing of an FDA advisory committee, the agency in a Complete Response Letter declined Alnylam’s bid to expand Onpattro’s label to cardiomyopathy in ATTR amyloidosis. As a result, Alnylam will no longer pursue an expanded indication for the siRNA therapeutic in the U.S.

Greg Slabodkin is the News Editor at BioSpace. You can reach him at greg.slabodkin@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.     

Back to news