In the wake of AbbVie's $55 billion purchase of Ireland's Shire, which should slash the company's tax rate by more than a third, analysts are abuzz over which foreign company will be next on Big Pharma's buy list. Among the targets: Switzerland-based Actelion.
Talk about peer pressure. First, a couple of U.S. drugmakers pull off trans-Atlantic deals that shift their official HQs and lower their tax rates. Next, some bigger names go for the same tax-inversion strategy. Now, investors want to know why every drugmaker isn't jumping in.
Switzerland's Actelion has been on a winning streak of late, charting better-than-expected clinical trial results and beating analysts' earnings expectations thanks to fast-growing sales of its new blood pressure treatment. It's no wonder, then, that the company is a perennial subject of takeover rumors. But CEO Jean-Paul Clozel isn't interested in entertaining any deal offers.
Shares of Switzerland's Actelion spiked 15% Monday morning after the biotech reported that its next-gen oral pulmonary arterial hypertension drug selexipag proved a success in Phase III, setting up a showdown with regulators for a drug that's widely billed as a likely blockbuster.
Actelion has lost its fight against a $407 million court judgment. California's Supreme Court rebuffed the Swiss drugmaker's appeal in a lawsuit over competition for its top-selling drug, the pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) treatment Tracleer. That affirms a lower court's ruling that Actelion intentionally thwarted a rival by acquiring a drug company and then spiking its prospective Tracleer competitor.
The FDA has granted its fast-track status to Actelion's Phase III drug for C. difficile-related diarrhea, promising a shorter path to approval for the antibiotic treatment.
In an interview with Bloomberg, COO John Milligan says the big biotech outfit--which is expected to generate megablockbuster revenue from the newly approved Sovaldi for hep C--is pondering a head-to-head study to determine whether Letairis is better or worse than Actelion's recently approved lung drug Opsumit.
The Swiss drugmaker said in a statement that the EC approved the drug for use by itself or in concert with another PAH drug. Actelion intends to begin selling it in Europe in February, with Germany first in line to get it.
Drugmakers have often been accused of trying to thwart competition with arrangements like pay-for-delay deals or aggressive patent litigation to protect their key drugs. But Swiss drugmaker Actelion went even further than that, a court ruled, buying out a drug company and then canceling a development deal in an effort to protect its only significant product at the time, PAH drug Tracleer.
The EU on Friday recommended approval of Actelion's Opsumit, following FDA approval the week before, and by today the takeover talk was in full swing. With regulators giving thumbs up to a drug projected to be a blockbuster, analysts say any number of companies may want to do a deal and add the assured revenue to their own top lines.