Facing extinction, MannKind is reportedly looking to sell itself

MannKind CEO Matthew Pfeffer

Struggling drugmaker MannKind ($MNKD) is looking for a way out of its perilous financial situation, according to Reuters, scouting for a buyer in the wake of ex-partner Sanofi's ($SNY) decision to abandon the company and its inhaled insulin.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters reported that MannKind has tapped investment bankers to help it search for strategic alternatives, including an outright sale to a larger firm.

The company, whose Afrezza has been a commercial disappointment, is low on cash and laden with debt, and Sanofi's exit earlier this month cut off a stream of funds that would have helped keep the doors open. New CEO Matthew Pfeffer has said the company has enough money to stay in business into the second half of next year, but it will need to either find a new partner for Afrezza or land a buyout to keep moving from there.

In the meantime, MannKind has rallied around an opaque agreement with a recently launched company called Receptor Life Sciences, through which the biotech will lend out its technology for developing inhalable drugs in exchange for as much as $102.3 million. MannKind was light on details in announcing the partnership last week but said the first milestone payment in the deal is expected to come through this year.

MannKind spent years and hundreds of millions of dollars getting Afrezza FDA approved, finally winning over regulators in 2014. Sanofi stepped in a few months later with a deal that gave MannKind $150 million up front and promised up to $775 million more in exchange for commercial rights to Afrezza. But the relationship gradually deteriorated as MannKind's drug "never met even modest expectations," Sanofi said this month, and the company doesn't expect Afrezza to reach "even the lowest patient levels anticipated."

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