Novartis to acquire US biopharma company Endocyte for $2.1bn

Swiss pharma giant Novartis has signed a deal valued at about $2.1 billion to acquire US biopharma company Endocyte in a move to expand its expertise in radiopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer.

According to the merger terms, the Swiss pharma giant will buy all the shares of Endocyte at $24 per share.

The US biopharma company is engaged in developing targeted therapies with companion imaging agents such as Lu-PSMA-617 by using drug conjugation technology.

Lu-PSMA-617 is an investigational radioligand therapy (RLT), which is being developed as a treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC).

The Endocyte radioligand therapy targets the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), found in most mCRPC patients, and has demonstrated promising phase 2 data.

Currently, Lu-PSMA-617 is being evaluated in a global phase 3 trial called VISION in men with mCRPC.

Mike Sherman – President and CEO of Endocyte, said: “Since acquiring exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize PSMA-617 agents in 2017, the entire Endocyte team, along with our partners, have worked tirelessly to build a leading radioligand (RLT) portfolio and create value for patients and shareholders alike.

“We are thrilled that Novartis recognizes the potential for Lu-PSMA-617 to change the treatment landscape for men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC), as well as the broader role that RLTs may potentially play in the treatment of cancer.

“The global reach and expertise of Novartis in developing and commercializing RLT therapies will be critical in efforts for patients to benefit from these therapies as quickly as possible.”

Upon completion of transaction, Endocyte will grow the Novartis radioligand therapy platform with a product that is likely to be launched in the near-term along with early-stage clinical development treatments.

Novartis signs deal to acquire US biopharma company Endocyte.
Image: Novartis signs deal to acquire US biopharma company Endocyte. Photo courtesy of Novartis AG.

The acquisition of the US biopharma company will also allow Novartis to harness its expertise in research and development to study the potential development of Lu-PSMA-617 as an early line of treatment for prostate cancer.

Liz Barrett – CEO of Novartis Oncology, said: “Novartis has a strong legacy of addressing unmet needs with transformative therapies and is building a leadership capability in new, technology-driven platforms that address some of the world’s most complex health challenges, including cancer.

“Today’s announcement about the proposed acquisition of Endocyte builds on our growing capability in radiopharmaceuticals, which is expected to be an increasingly important treatment option for patients and a key growth driver for our business. We are also excited about the opportunity to break into the prostate cancer arena with a near-term product that has the potential to make a meaningful impact for patients in great need of more options.”

The deal is likely to be wrapped up in the first half of 2019 based on approval from shareholders of Endocyte along with antitrust and regulatory approvals and meeting of other customary closing conditions.

Last month, Novartis announced that its subsidiary Sandoz US entered into a deal to divest its dermatology and oral solids businesses to Indian pharma company Aurobindo Pharma in a deal that could earn it up to $1 billion.

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