Bayer to acquire Asklepios Bio in foray into gene therapy worth up to $4 billion

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer BAYGn.DE agreed to acquire unlisted U.S. biotech firm Asklepios BioPharmaceutical Inc for as much as $4 billion in a bet on gene therapy with the help of modified viruses.

FILE PHOTO: A bridge is decorated with the logo of a Bayer AG, a German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Wuppertal, Germany August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

Germany’s Bayer will pay $2 billion upfront and up to an additional $2 billion in milestone payments contingent on development achievements, it said on Monday.

The North Carolina-based takeover target, also known as AskBio, is trying to use the harmless adeno-associated virus as a delivery device to bring genetic repair kits against a range of diseases into the body.Drugs and farming pesticides maker Bayer needs to upgrade its drug development pipeline amid a weaker outlook for agricultural sales and as it seeks to finalise an $11 billion settlement over claims its Roundup weedkiller causes cancer.

Among AskBio’s most advanced projects are early tests on volunteers of prospective treatments against Pompe disease – a rare genetic disease causing buildup of a sugar molecule inside cells – as well as against Parkinson’s disease and congestive heart failure.

Bayer said the deal complements the 2019 acquisition of BlueRock Therapeutics, a developer of stem cell therapies, and underscores Bayer’s intention to create a cell and gene therapy business.

AskBio, which was founded in 2001, and BlueRock will exchange information and collaborate but will each operate as independent entities, prompting a pledge from AskBio’s five main owners, who are co-founders or key scientists, to remain with the firm.

“We are staying on board because of the unique structure that Bayer has provided … We’ll have the ability to make our science decisions,” said Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Sheila Mikhail.

Investors TPG Capital and Vida Ventures are selling a minority stake in the company.

AskBio is also helping other companies with their gene therapy research and production and has licensed experimental drugs to external partners, which has financed much of its own drug development activities. Bayer or AskBio would not provide figures for such fee revenues.

A potential treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, invented by AskBio is currently being developed in clinical trials by Pfizer PFE.N and this month won fast track here status from U.S. regulators.

Bayer in 2018 moved to lean more strongly on external firms to improve drug development, which analysts say needs a boost to make up for an expected decline in revenues from its two pharma bestsellers from about 2024.

Credit Suisse was financial advisor while Baker McKenzie was legal counsel to Bayer. JP Morgan was financial advisor to AskBio, while Ropes & Gray was legal counsel.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Frances Kerry

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Global Animal Healthcare Market – Featuring Bayer AG, C. H. Boehringer Sohn AG & Co. KG, and Cadila Healthcare Ltd. Among Others

The animal healthcare market is poised to grow by USD 7.98 billion during 2020-2024, progressing at a CAGR of over 4% during the forecast period.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20201026005398/en/

Technavio has announced its latest market research report titled Global Animal Healthcare Market 2020-2024 (Graphic: Business Wire)

The report on the animal healthcare market provides a holistic update, market size and forecast, trends, growth drivers, and challenges, as well as vendor analysis.

The report offers an up-to-date analysis regarding the current global market scenario, latest trends and drivers, and the overall market environment. The market is driven by the rise in incidences of zoonotic diseases.

Technavio suggests three forecast scenarios (optimistic, probable, and pessimistic) considering the impact of COVID-19. Download Free Sample Report on COVID-19 Recovery Analysis

The animal healthcare market analysis includes the product segment and geographic landscapes. This study identifies the increasing role of organic tracing elements in improving livestock production as one of the prime reasons driving the animal healthcare market growth during the next few years.

This report presents a detailed picture of the market by the way of study, synthesis, and summation of data from multiple sources by an analysis of key parameters.

The Animal Healthcare Market covers the following areas:

Animal Healthcare Market Sizing

Animal Healthcare Market Forecast

Animal Healthcare Market Analysis

Companies Mentioned

  • Bayer AG

  • C. H. Boehringer Sohn AG & Co. KG

  • Cadila Healthcare Ltd.

  • Dechra Pharmaceuticals Plc

  • Elanco Animal Health Inc.

  • Heska Corp.

  • Merck & Co. Inc.

  • Norbrook Laboratories Ltd.

  • Virbac SA

  • Zoetis Inc.

Key Topics Covered:

Executive Summary

Market Landscape

  • Market ecosystem

  • Value chain analysis

Market Sizing

Five Forces Analysis

Market Segmentation by Product

  • Market segments

  • Comparison by Product placement

  • Pharmaceutical – Market size and forecast 2019-2024

  • Feed additive – Market size and forecast 2019-2024

  • Biologicals – Market size and forecast 2019-2024

  • Market opportunity by Product

Customer landscape

Geographic Landscape

  • Geographic segmentation

  • Geographic comparison

  • North America – Market size and forecast 2019-2024

  • Europe – Market size and forecast 2019-2024

  • APAC – Market size and forecast 2019-2024

  • South America – Market size and forecast 2019-2024

  • MEA – Market size and forecast 2019-2024

  • Key leading countries

  • Market opportunity by geography

Drivers, Challenges, and Trends

  • Market drivers

  • Volume driver – Demand led growth

  • Volume driver – Supply led growth

  • Volume driver – External factors

  • Volume driver – Demand shift in adjacent markets

  • Price driver – Inflation

  • Price driver – Shift from lower to higher-priced units

  • Market challenges

  • Market trends

Vendor Landscape

  • Overview

  • Vendor landscape

  • Landscape disruption

Vendor Analysis

  • Vendors covered

  • Market positioning of vendors

  • Bayer AG

  • C. H. Boehringer Sohn AG & Co. KG

  • Cadila Healthcare Ltd.

  • Dechra Pharmaceuticals Plc

  • Elanco Animal Health Inc.

  • Heska Corp.

  • Merck & Co. Inc.

  • Norbrook Laboratories Ltd.

  • Virbac SA

  • Zoetis Inc.

Appendix

About Us

Technavio is a leading global technology research and advisory company. Their research and analysis focuses on emerging market trends and provides actionable insights to help businesses identify market opportunities and develop effective strategies to optimize

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Bayer to Buy Gene-Therapy Firm AskBio for Up to $4 Billion

BERLIN—

Bayer AG


BAYRY 0.16%

said Monday it would pay as much as $4 billion for U.S. biotech firm Asklepios BioPharmaceutical Inc. to strengthen the German company’s drugmaking arm, as Bayer continues to reel from its acquisition of crops giant Monsanto.

The latest deal—for which Bayer will pay $2 billion now and as much as a further $2 billion based on future success milestones—is a bet on cutting-edge gene therapy, in which a functional gene is inserted to counter the effects of a disease caused by a missing or faulty gene.

The German company’s biggest pharmaceutical acquisition since its purchase of domestic rival Schering AG in 2006 is also an attempt to tackle one of a series of challenges that has been plaguing the inventor of aspirin, especially since its 2018 acquisition of U.S.-based Monsanto.

The $63 billion Monsanto deal was meant to give the company another big, fast-growing revenue stream besides pharmaceuticals. Instead, it has saddled Bayer with a protracted legal battle over whether Monsanto’s Roundup weedkillers cause cancer—a dispute that has pummeled Bayer’s share price. Bayer says Roundup is safe.

Then, last month, Bayer shocked investors with a warning that the coronavirus pandemic would hit its agriculture business harder than expected. Bayer has also faced setbacks in settling the Roundup lawsuits for $10.9 billion.

The profit warning cast more doubt on the rationale for the Monsanto deal and its ability to boost Bayer’s profit.

At the same time, Bayer’s drug pipeline has been worrying investors. Two of the company’s bestselling drugs—blood thinner Xarelto and eye treatment Eylea—will start to lose patent protection from around 2024.

Analysts have been concerned that Bayer doesn’t have enough promising new products in its research-and-development pipeline to make up for the expected drop in sales from the blockbusters’ patent losses.

To boost its pipeline, Bayer has been looking for drug-development partnerships or deals to license drugs that are in promising stages of clinical development.

Stefan Oelrich, chief executive of Bayer’s pharmaceutical branch, said the purchase of AskBio was slightly larger than the acquisitions Bayer had been seeking in the pharmaceutical space, but added that he was convinced after the first phone call with the U.S. company’s co-founders that it would be the “perfect fit.”

“What we now have is a comprehensive pipeline,” Mr. Oelrich said in an interview. “I feel like things are really coming together on the pharma side.”

Mr. Oelrich said it was too early to predict how much in sales the AskBio treatments are likely to generate, but added that he expects the deal to help Bayer build a leading position in gene therapy. That treatment area has been gaining momentum after setbacks occurred during the first testing in humans in the 1990s, when several patients died.

Dozens of gene therapies are now undergoing clinical trials and big drug companies have been acquiring gene-therapy firms, betting on the success of those treatments in the future.

AskBio was co-founded by Richard Jude Samulski, who pioneered the use of what are known

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