BMS buyout rumors drive Canadian Biopharma shares soar


Rumors of acquisition of major pharmaceutical company have pushed up Canadian stock prices Pharmaceutical Aurinia. Bristol Myers Squibb is reportedly courting biopharma to strike a buyout deal.

Bristol Myers recently ran for Acceleron Pharma and its promising pulmonary arterial hypertension drug, but was beaten by Merck in an $ 11.5 billion deal. After tearing up a lost supply, the global biopharmaceutical could rebound by softening its autoimmune portfolio instead.

While both companies decline to comment, Bloomberg anonymous sources to say that no final decision has been made and states that BMS can withdraw from the agreement at any time.

Aurinia recently made history with the first oral drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of lupus nephritis, a severe kidney-related progression of systemic lupus erythematosus. It is the first drug to gain US approval for the Canadian company.

The drug, marketed as Lupkynis, is expected to reach blockbuster status by the middle of the decade, which means more than $ 1 billion in annual sales.

Its only competitor currently on the market is the injectable biologic drug Benlysta from GlaxoSmithKline. Although the two drugs have not been in a direct comparison study, one Lupkynis study showed a 41% complete renal response in 52 weeks compared to a 30% response of Benlysta after 104 weeks.

Benlysta has been approved for other lupus indications since 2011, but has added approval for the treatment of patients with LN just last december. Currently, Lupkynis is only approved for lupus nephritis, but additional formulations for other indications are already under development.

Aurinia’s pipeline will also bring two more autoimmune hopes to BMS, should the takeover go through. These pipeline candidates were picked up in August, just eight months after Lupkynis was approved.

The first is under preclinical development to block B cell activating factor and a proliferation-inducing ligand to control the pathogenesis of autoimmune and nephrologic conditions. This asset was blocked by a buyback of shares of $ 750,000 from Thunderbolt Pharma.

With an upfront payment of $ 6 million, a second candidate was secured from California-based Riptide. An IND submission is expected by the end of next year. An M2 macrophage modulator is also in preparation, with clinical development expected to start in 2023.

Aurinia stock has climbed more than 36% in the past five days, thanks to acquisition rumors. These are record numbers for the Canadian company. Experts anticipate the price of its acquisition in the order of 7 to 8 billion dollars.

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