Actavis snaps up Durata, newly approved antibiotic in $675M buyout

Buyout-hungry Actavis ($ACT)--which is alternatively spotlighted as both a buyer and a possible buyout target--has snapped up Chicago-based Durata Therapeutics ($DRTX) and its recently approved antibiotic Dalvance (dalbavancin) for $675 million plus a potential bonus.

The Irish company, which grew fast and merged recently with Forest Laboratories, is paying $23 a share to snag the biotech, setting aside a $5 CVR for shareholders that can pay off based on the success of new research aimed at expanding use of their IV antibiotic--which is approved for acute skin and skin structure infections caused by susceptible gram-positive bacteria like the lethal Staphylococcus aureus. More work is being planned for hospitalized community-acquired pneumonia and pediatric osteomyelitis and investigators say they expect to file a supplemental NDA in mid-2015.

Durata has followed a long and twisting road to get to this stage. Pfizer spun out the company and the antibiotic close to 5 years ago when 5 VCs--New Leaf Venture Partners, LLC, Domain Associates, LLC, Aisling Capital, Sofinnova Ventures Inc. and Canaan Partners--got together to buy it after the pharma giant had snagged the assets it wanted from the Vicuron acquisition. At that time dalbavancin was a late-stage program. 

The FDA, which had roiled the antibiotics market after changing up the rules, handed Pfizer a rejection for dalbavancin in 2007, forcing more work in the clinic and prodding Pfizer to give up on it.

Durata, though, eventually went on to win an approval earlier this year, helped by new rules under the GAIN act aimed at incentivizing the development of new antibiotics after Big Pharma companies had largely abandoned the field. Now Roche and others say they're interested in the field once again, and Actavis is clearly intrigued by the market potential.

Actavis CEO Brent Saunders

"The acquisition of Durata is a strong strategic fit that strengthens Actavis' emerging infectious disease franchise and aligns with our stated goal to make smart, targeted investments that complement our existing businesses and position the Company for continued long-term growth," said Brent Saunders, the CEO of Actavis.  

A few days ago Actavis was reportedly in discussions to buy Salix as rumors of a bid from Allergan have sizzled as well. Actavis, meanwhile, was reportedly approached by Pfizer to get an idea of whether the company would welcome a buyout offer from the pharma giant, which had been badly bruised during a failed attempt to take over AstraZeneca in a high-profile inversion deal aimed at lowering Pfizer's tax burden. 

Right now, M&A in biopharma is red hot as the feds do their best to make it harder to extract benefits from a tax inversion.

- here's the release