Medivation buyout: Sanofi and J&J lead the chase


The chase to acquire US pharma company Medivation continues with rumours of Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) leading the pack.

Sanofi is particularly keen on snapping up the specialist pharma company, with reports surfacing that a previous bid had been turned down earlier this week.

Now, Sanofi are reportedly preparing a hostile takeover bid with other pharma companies including Amgen, Roche, AstraZeneca and J&J also reportedly interested. J&J in particular has been expanding its prostate cancer research following Zytiga's approval and its recent acquisition of Tesaro's niraparib.

It's easy to see where the overwhelming interest in buying Medivation comes from. Its biggest asset Xtandi (enzalutamide) – although subject to criticism from Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders over pricing – earned close to $2 billion in 2015 thanks to it giving an option to those with resistant prostate cancer.

Now, Xtandi finds itself leading an expanding prostate cancer treatment market with 2020 sales predictions of around $5.7 billion. Even more interest in the drug will be gained from Medivation's intent to expand Xtandi's indications into advanced breast cancer (including triple negative breast cancer) and hepatocellular carcinoma.

Xtandi is just one of a range of promising Medivation drugs. The company also has its PARP inhibitor MDV-3800 (talazoparib) currently in phase 3 trials for the treatment of gBRCA breast cancer, which it also hopes to extend into prostate, small cell lung cancer and ovarian cancers indications.

Medivation's immunotherapy candidate pidilizumab is also in phase 3 trials for relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, which the company will again look to extend its indications into other haematological cancers. Pidilizumab no doubt fuelled the rumours of Roche and AstraZeneca's takeover interest with both companies currently looking to expand their immune-oncology portfolio.

Medivation's non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) candidate MDV-4463 will also turn heads considering the recent activity in the emerging field, with Gilead's shock move to acquire Nimbus for its ACC inhibitor NDI-010976, and the FDA recommending Intercept's own obeticholic acid candidate for the condition.

For Sanofi, an acquisition of Medivation may provide the solution to stagnant sales over the past 2 years. 

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Marco Ricci

15 April, 2016