January's top stories: J&J to acquire Actelion for $30bn, Takeda to acquire ARIAD for $5.2bn

J&J agreed to acquire Swiss biotech company Actelion for $30bn, and Japan’s Takeda agreed to acquire US cancer drug manufacturer ARIAD for $5.2bn. Pharmaceutical-technology.com wraps up the key headlines from January.


J&J agreed to acquire Swiss biotech company Actelion for $30bn

US-based healthcare company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) signed an agreement to acquire Swiss biotech company Actelion in a deal valued at $30bn.

J&J plans to fund the transaction with cash held outside the US, and stated that the addition of Actelion's in-market medicines and late-stage products is consistent with its efforts to grow in complementary therapeutic areas.

Furthermore, J&J will be able to accelerate investment in its pipeline to drive additional growth and expects to retain Actelion's presence in Switzerland.
 

Japan’s Takeda agreed to acquire US cancer drug manufacturer ARIAD for $5.2bn

Japanese-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Company signed an agreement to acquire American oncology company ARIAD Pharmaceuticals for approximately $5.2bn.

With the acquisition of ARIAD, Takeda will gain access to the leukaemia drug Iclusig, as well as new lung cancer treatment drug Brigatinib.

Brigatinib can add a differentiated global therapy in a genetically defined subpopulation of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
 

Ipsen agreed to acquire global oncology assets from Merrimack for $1.25bn

French pharmaceutical company Ipsen signed an agreement to acquire global oncology assets from US-based Merrimack Pharmaceuticals for $1.25bn.

The acquisition will also include Merrimack’s product Onivyde (irinotecan liposome injection) for the treatment of patients with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas.

Under the agreement, Ipsen will acquire US commercialisation rights for Onivyde and Merrimack's current licensing agreements with Shire outside of the US and with PharmaEngine for Taiwan.
 

Malecare launched new mobile application Cancergraph to track cancer symptoms

US-based men’s cancer survivor support and advocacy national non-profit organisation Malecare launched a new mobile application, Cancergraph, which tracks cancer symptoms.

The application tracks disease states and quality of life reports in real time and quickly identifies its primary value as a clinical trial accrual system.

Cancergraph distils health data of each user to provide only the specific cancer trials in real-time that apply to them, instead of asking the patients to do the searching.
 

Eli Lilly agreed to acquire US company CoLucid Pharmaceuticals for $960m

Eli Lilly and Company signed an agreement to acquire US-based CoLucid Pharmaceuticals in a transaction worth approximately $960m.

The deal is set to improve Lilly's existing portfolio in pain management for migraine and also add a potential near-term launch to its late-stage pipeline.

CoLucid was developing an oral 5-HT1F agonist (lasmiditan) for the acute treatment of migraine and completed the first of two pivotal Phase III trials.
 

Aurobindo Pharma signed agreement to acquire Generis for €135m

Indian company Aurobindo Pharma signed an agreement through its wholly owned subsidiary Agile Pharma to acquire Portugal-based Generis Farmacêutica from Magnum Capital Partners for €135m.

Generis manufactures and sells pharmaceutical products within Portugal.

As part of the deal, Aurobindo will acquire the manufacturing facility in Amadora, Portugal, which has the capacity to manufacture 1.2bn tablets / capsules / sachets per year.
 

New UK project launched to develop improved cancer diagnostic tests

A new project funded by Cancer Research UK was launched to help investigate different methods of bringing improved cancer diagnostic tests to general practitioners (GPs).

With an aim to improve and develop new ways of diagnosing cancer in surgeries, the CanTest project will evaluate the suitability of various diagnostic methods and tools for both patients and GPs.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge, the University of Exeter, University College London, the University of Leeds and various international institutions will be involved in the project.
 

Bedrocan recognised as world’s first GMP-approved medicinal cannabis producer

Netherlands-based Bedrocan International was recognised as the world’s first producer of medicinal cannabis to be compliant with the European Medicines Agency’s good manufacturing practice (GMP) standards.

The latest news follows an inspection carried out by the Dutch Health Care Inspectorate.

Following the announcement, Bedrocan’s production facilities located in Canada and the Czech Republic are expected to become fully compliant next year.
 

US researchers identified new method to protect pancreas from digestive enzymes

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center identified a new mechanism, whereby the stress hormone FGF21 protects pancreas from digestive enzymes.

The research focuses on the possibility of new therapies for pancreatitis, which may be caused due to heavy, long-term alcohol drinking, gallstones, and certain hereditary conditions.

As part of the study, it was found that FGF21 works on the central nervous system like a hormone when produced in the liver.
 

Eisai acquired manufacturing rights for API from Roche to treat insomnia

Eisai acquired the rights for manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) for Japan from F Hoffman-La Roche for the insomnia treatment / anaesthesia induction agent flunitrazepam.

The transfer of marketing authorisation held by Chugai Pharmaceutical for Rohypnol in the country has also been agreed upon by the three companies.

Under the agreement, Eisai will acquire the rights to manufacture API, as well as intellectual property for flunitrazepam from Chugai and Roche.