Flurry of Activity: Top 2018 Biopharma M&A Deals So Far

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While the biopharma industry awaits news of an acquisition of Shire by Takeda Pharmaceutical, it’s a good time to take a look back at the bigger deals so far this year. There have literally been dozens of smaller deals, such as Merck acquiring Viralytics for $394 million or Genoptix buying Rosetta Genomics for $10 million, but there have been a handful of bigger deals of note. All this activity is likely the result of the tax bill that cut the corporate tax rates, giving companies cash to invest. Here’s a look.

Since the Shire-Takeda deal is still up in the air, note that Shire sold its oncology business to France’s Servier for $2.4 billion in April, shortly after the announcement that Takeda was bidding for Shire. The Servier deal had been in the works since the beginning of the year and didn’t have a connection to the Takeda bid.

Likely the biggest deals this year have been by Paris-based Sanofi. In late-January, Sanofi acquired Waltham, Massachusetts-based Bioverativ for about $11.6 billion. Bioverativ was a spinoff by Biogen. About a week later, Sanofi bought Ghent, Belgium-based Ablynx for $4.8 billion. Then, on April 17, Sanofi agreed to sell its generics division, Zentiva, to Advent International for about $2.4 billion. Advent is a private equity firm.

Another prominent deal was Celgene Corporation’s acquisition of Juno Therapeutics in January for about $9 billion. This deal came shortly after Celgene’s deal for Impact Biomedicines for $1.1 billion upfront and $1.25 billion in various milestone payments.

In late January, Bothell, Washington-based Seattle Genetics announced a deal to buy Seattle-based Cascadian Therapeutics for about $614 million. It paid $10 per share and picked up Cascadian’s tucatinib, which has a lot of potential for the treatment of breast, colorectal, ovarian and gastric cancers.

In March, GlaxoSmithKline agreed to buy out its stake in its Novartis joint venture for $13 billion. The joint venture was formed in 2014 between the two companies, and offered many of their best-known brands under one company, including Exedrin for pain, NiQuitin for smoking, and TheraFlu for cold and flu. In April, Novartis planned a merger with AveXis for about $8.7 billion.

In the areas of big consumer health business deals, also in April, P&G agreed to buy the consumer health business of Merck KGaA, in Darmstadt, Germany, for about $4.1 billion. In a related story, Pfizer Inc. hasn’t been able to sell off its consumer health division, despite nibbles by GlaxoSmithKline and Reckitt Benckiser Group. Pfizer recently indicated it planned to make a decision about the unit by the end of the year.

In April, Alexion Pharmaceuticals, based in New Haven, Connecticut, announced plans to acquire Swedish company Wilson Therapeutics for about $855 million.

Also in April, Roche completed its acquisition of Flatiron Health, an oncology-specific digital health company for about $1.9 billion. The same month, Roche bought Inception’s Inception 5 program, which focused on regenerative therapies for multiple sclerosis.

Most recently, Janssen Biotech, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals, announced on May 2 that it was buying Rockville, Maryland-based BeneVir Biopharma, a subsidiary of HC2, in a deal that could hit more than $1 billion. On March 16, J&J announced it was selling its LifeScan business to Platinum Equity, a private investment firm, for $2.1 billion.

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