Pfizer, GSK named in Onyx buyout gossip

Take your pick. There are a number of Big Pharma outfits that might benefit from scooping up South San Francisco cancer drug developer Onyx Pharmaceuticals ($ONXX), which has reportedly hired a banking firm to scout strategic options such a sale of the company.

In a Bloomberg report Thursday, industry watchers tossed in Pfizer ($PFE), Takeda and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) as large drugmakers in need of the additional drugs that an Onyx buyout would bring, as the trio of pharma giants face the all-too-common patent cliff. Onyx, of course, is the developer of the kidney cancer drug Nexavar, and the company's closely watched compound carfilzomib is under FDA review for treating multiple myeloma.

If an approval of carfilzomib comes as hoped next year, Onyx would be on track to more than double its revenue in 5 years, Bloomberg reported. The news service was the first to report on Nov. 28 that sources said Onyx had hired an investment banking firm to aid its hunt for strategic options. If the rumors are true, it's not much of a surprise to some analysts. Buyouts can bring nice returns to investors in small drug developers, and Onyx's shares predictably jumped after rumors about its designs on sale were made public.

"They're definitely putting themselves out there," Jefferies Group analyst Biren Amin told Bloomberg. "At the end of the day, most of these small- to mid- cap biotech companies want to sell themselves."

- get more in the Bloomberg article