- Japanese drugmkaer Astellas Pharma dove deeper into the oncology pool Friday, acquiring immuno-oncology drug maker Ganymed for €422 million ($460.7 million) upfront.
- Astellas' growth strategy hinges on building up an oncology pipeline. Acquiring Ganymed gives the company access to late-stage IMAB362, a treatment for gastroesophageal cancer which extended median progression-free survival and overall survival among certain patients in a recent Phase 2b clinical trial.
- Japanese pharmaceutical developers, such as Astellas, Takeda and Eisai, have more active players in M&A of late. Earlier this year, Astellas completed an acquisition of cell therapy provider Ocata Therapeutics and sold off rights to a dual antagonist platform.
Takeda and Eisai have both announced organizational shake-ups this year, while looking outward for potential pick-ups.
Takeda is in the midst of a $725 million restructuring aimed to increase focus on the core therapeutic areas of oncology, gastroenterology and the central nervous system. At the same time, the drugmaker is also reportedly fishing for a major deal, reportedly setting aside $15 billion to spend on M&A in the U.S., according to the Financial Times.
Meanwhile, Eisai has launched a new drug discovery unit at its facility in Andover, Massachusetts, aiming to accelerate development of precision medicines for dementia, cancer and auto-immune diseases.
Astellas anticipates its most recent deal will close before the end of the year. Under deal terms, Ganymed will become a subsidiary of its acquirer. The target's shareholders could also reap up to $940 million in additional milestone payments based on development of IMAB362.
Executives from Astellas are hoping Ganymed's oncology pipeline will offer good follow-up drugs to its blockbuster prostate treatment Xtandi (enzalutamide), which raked in ¥137.2 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2015. Cancer company Medivation, which was recently acquired by Pifzer, markets Xtandi in the U.S.
“Oncology is one of our focus therapeutic areas and key drivers for our growth," Astellas CEO Yoshihiko Hatanaka said in an October 28 statement. "The acquisition of Ganymed will enable Astellas to further expand our oncology presence by adding a late-stage antibody asset with the potential to establish a new pillar following Xtandi."