Mirati is once again the subject of Big Pharma takeover talks: report

With Thanksgiving around the corner, Big Pharmas are reportedly considering adding an extra main course to the M&A menu. 

Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Mirati Therapeutics is once again the subject of takeover talks, reviving similar rumors from a year ago. In fact, Mirati has been considering strategic options “for some time,” according to the latest reports. 

No formal bids have been proposed, according to Bloomberg, which claimed that the cancer-focused company is working with an advisor and larger pharmas are considering the “merits of a transaction.” Notably, the report said that a deal doesn’t appear to be imminent.

A spokesperson for Mirati said the company would not comment on speculation. 

The latest reports come as the company prepares to challenge Amgen’s KRAS inhibitor packleader Lumakras with its own competitor, adagrasib. The drug is currently being reviewed under the FDA’s accelerated approval program with a December 14 decision deadline

One of the indications that Mirati has specifically touted is in colorectal cancer, where data suggests adagrasib has the advantage. The drug is currently in two phase 3 trials, one combining it with Erbitux to treat colorectal patients and another as a monotherapy to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Waiting in the wings behind adagrasib is sitravatinib, Mirati’s multi-kinase inhibitor aimed at non-smokers with NSCLC. The runner-up asset is similarly being tested in two phase 3 trials, one in combination with BeiGene’s tislelizumab and another in combination with Bristol Myers Squibb's Opdivo. 

J.P. Morgan said in a note Wednesday that the timing of the rumored deal makes sense but would hinge on the quality of phase 2 data testing adagrasib with Keytruda. The analysts speculated that companies that could potentially be in the running are Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Merck & Co. and Bristol Myers, given they all lack a late-stage KRAS product. The investor note said a deal would likely cost between $185 and $200 per share, resulting in a total value of between $10.5 billion and $12 billion. A year ago, the Financial Times reported that Mirati was already on Merck’s acquisition shortlist. 

Bloomberg's reporting appeared to enthuse investors, who sent Mirati’s stock shooting up from $76.64 per share to a high of $89.40 in the late afternoon Tuesday.