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Biotech M&A Continues to Climb the Curve

The trajectory of biotech M&A has been steep in 2015, so the $7.2bn acquisition of Receptos by oncology powerhouse Celgene, increases the gradient even further. This deal came out of left field, especially as commentators were still raking over the sizable partnering deal Celgene has just cemented with Juno Therapeutics in immuno-oncology.

For some time now people have been wondering if Celgene would remain committed to their Immunology and Inflammation franchise, in fact this was largely questioned inside the company as it neared the regulatory decision for apremilast. By acquiring Receptos, the company makes a clear statement of intent that I&I remains a clear strategic component for the company’s growth. They will get their hands on late-stage asset, ozanimod, which will slot right into their I&I business.

Celgene has been a deal-making machine over the past few years, placing bets across a spectrum of strategically related technologies that would shape its future. As just stated, this has taken in Juno Therapeutics, as well as Agios, Sutro, Acceleron, Avila, AstraZeneca/MedImmune, Acetylon, Epizyme, AnaptysBio, Bluebirdbio, Quanticel…to name a few. This incredible slate of deals has been done creatively to fight off competition and give Celgene access to technologies which will shape the company’s future. Yet, despite all this deal making, Celgene’s last major acquisition was Abraxis Bioscience where they acquired Abraxane for solid tumour oncology. The latest Receptos deal is a really interesting deal and it seems Celgene has got the company at a good valuation, at least relative to the metrics applied to other deals in the sector, like Alexion’s purchase of Synageva or Abbvie’s buy of PharmaCyclics.

Celgene has grown very aggressively but the company today remains heavily reliant on Revlimid, so Bob Hugin will be keen to keep the growth going while lessening this reliance. This is definitely not the last of Celgene in the deal-making arena.

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