Surging Actelion is on the hunt for buyouts amid 'M&A frenzy'

Fueled by strong sales for its latest cardio drug and a promising pipeline, Switzerland's Actelion says it's on the lookout for acquisitions but remains wary of paying the big premiums that have become commonplace in pharma.

The biotech unveiled better-than-expected financial results on Tuesday thanks largely to the growth of Opsumit, Actelion's latest treatment for pulmonary hypertension. Now the company is painting a rosier picture of the rest of the year, raising its growth expectations to "the low double-digit percentage range."

And Actelion is looking for some deals to brighten the future, CFO André Muller told Reuters, hoping to use its growing checkbook to expand its pipeline. But "we will remain disciplined, especially in this M&A frenzy that we've seen in the recent past," Muller said.

Just what Actelion is looking for remains anyone's guess. The company has dominated the PAH space for years, beginning with the soon-to-lose-patent-protection Tracleer and continuing with the recently approved Opsumit. Actelion built a name for itself in the cardiology world in the process, and the company might look for bolt-on cardio assets to join the fold.

Meanwhile, Actelion is expecting U.S. and European approval for the next-generation PAH treatment selexipag by year's end, riding investor optimism after presenting positive data at last month's American College of Cardiology meeting.

Actelion's Phase III pipeline also includes cadazolid, a treatment for Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea, and an effort to develop Opsumit for a congenital heart defect called Eisenmenger syndrome. Last week, the company kicked off a late-stage study of ponesimod for multiple sclerosis, planning to recruit 1,100 patients in step one of building a new franchise in immunology.

- read the results
- here's the Reuters story

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