BMS pays uniQure $53M; Roche, Wilex cut ties; Galapagos starts countdown to AbbVie decision

Welcome to the latest edition of our weekly EuroBiotech Report. Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) stepped up its gene therapy alliance with uniQure ($QURE) this week, handing over $15 million (€13.5 million) to add three targets to the collaboration and a further $38 million to up its stake in its partner to just shy of 10%. UniQure is in line to pocket more money as the number of targets put forward by Bristol-Myers increases beyond the four selected to date. The news for another of Bristol-Myers' partners, Bavarian Nordic (CPH:BAVA), was less positive. The Danish drugmaker spent the week feeling the effects of Kerrisdale Capital's attack on its prospects. Kerrisdale, a hedge fund that is shorting Bavarian Nordic's stock, is keeping up the pressure on the company by continuing to promote its theory that Prostvac will flunk Phase III. Galapagos ($GLPG) is hoping AbbVie ($ABBV) has a more favorable impression of the likelihood its selective JAK1 inhibitor, filgotinib, will ace a late-stage study. The Belgian drugmaker handed over the final Phase IIb data set to AbbVie, triggering a countdown to a $200 million opt-in decision by its Big Pharma ally. Wilex (ETR:WL6) found itself on the receiving end of a knockback by a Big Pharma partner. Roche ($RHHBY) delivered the blow by exiting its alliance with Wilex subsidiary Heidelberg Pharma. The move is part of a scaling back of cancer R&D programs outside of immuno-oncology at the Swiss drugmaker. Neil Woodford positioned his huge investment fund to sell another £80 million of stock. And more. Nick Taylor (email | Twitter)

1. UniQure pockets $53M as Bristol-Myers Squibb steps up gene therapy alliance

UniQure has netted another $53 million (€48 million) from Bristol-Myers Squibb. The deal sees BMS add three targets to its cardiovascular gene therapy collaboration and snaffle 1.3 million more of uniQure's shares, taking its stake in the Dutch drugmaker up toward 10%.

2. Wilex's stock tanks after Roche exits alliance to focus on immuno-oncology

Wilex has become one of the early losers of the immuno-oncology gold rush. The blow was dealt by Roche, which has axed its alliance with Wilex subsidiary Heidelberg Pharma as part of its retreat from areas of cancer R&D beyond immuno-oncology.

3. Galapagos starts timer on AbbVie buy-in decision with posting of final data

Galapagos has started the countdown to the day on which AbbVie must decide whether to hand over $200 million (€181 million) in exchange for its Phase III-ready rheumatoid arthritis drug. The timer started ticking down this week when Galapagos handed over the final Phase II data set.

4. Kerrisdale Capital keeps its foot on Bavarian Nordic's throat with further discussion of short thesis

Kerrisdale Capital is maintaining the pressure on Bavarian Nordic. Having precipitated a 13% drop in the stock of Bavarian Nordic in the 10 days since it unveiled its short thesis, the hedge fund is now holding a follow-up call to expand on its theory that the Danish drugmaker is a busted flush.

5. Woodford sets stage for the addition of £80M to monster fund

Neil Woodford has given himself the option to issue up to £80 million ($125 million) in new shares of Patient Capital Trust. The fund, which has £958 million after completing a monster listing earlier this year, is considering issuing up to 10% of its current share capital to meet investor demand.

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