- Bristol Myers Squibb on Monday said it will pay $13.1 billion to acquire MyoKardia, a developer of medicines for genetic forms of heart disease.
- Bristol Myers is paying $225 per share for MyoKardia, a roughly 61% premium to the biotech's $139.60 closing price on Friday. The acquisition gives the larger drugmaker rights to mavacamten, a treatment for a chronic heart condition known as obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy that could be headed for a regulatory review by next year.
- The deal also helps Bristol Myers bolster its cardiovascular drug business, which is led by the blockbuster blood-thinning medicine Eliquis. Generic competition could arrive as early as 2026, however, putting pressure on the pharmaceutical company to fill its pipeline. Along with mavacamten, Bristol Myers will also get several other, similar drugs MyoKardia has been developing.
Not too long ago, MyoKarda made the biggest gamble of its young life as a biotech. In Jan. 2019, the company balked at an overture from long-time partner Sanofi to expand their existing alliance, hand over U.S. rights to mavacamten and run more trials to test its drugs in various other diseases.
"Neither of these options make sense for our business at this time," CEO Tassos Gianakakos said on a conference call then. Instead, Gianakakos claimed MyoKardia was building a business "for the long haul," with an aim to sell its own drugs someday.
In doing so, Gianakakos tied his company's fate to a trial called EXPLORER, the first Phase 3 trial for any of the cardiovascular medicines it's been developing, each treatments for people with heart disease-causing genetic mutations. Shares in Myokardia were worth less than $50 apiece at the time.
MyoKardia won't become the self-sufficient drugmaker Gianakakos envisioned that day, but its decisions in 2019 have nonetheless paid off for shareholders. EXPLORER succeeded in May, doubling shares to more than $120 each in the process. The results, disclosed fully at a medical meeting in August, "look practice changing," wrote Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Alethia Young.
With the Phase 3 success, mavacamten has a chance at becoming an approved treatment for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, or HCM, a typically inherited heart condition that affects about 160,000 to 200,000 people in the U.S. and Europe. The disease causes cardiac muscles to thicken, rendering the heart less able to pump blood.
A regulatory filing for approval is expected next year.
Young, who believes the drug could become a first choice for doctors in obstructive HCM, has modeled about $2 billion in peak sales for the drug.
Bristol Myers is betting that will be the case, with plans to buy MyoKardia for nearly twice what it was worth the day the EXPLORER data were disclosed.
Commercial success is no guarantee, however. Many HCM patients don't have symptoms, and other medications and surgical options are available. Bristol Myers, then, will have to navigate a competitive market and convince insurers that mavacamten will be worth what will likely be a high price tag.
Other drugmakers have struggled to make big sellers out of new medicines for heart failure and high cholesterol, despite considerable investment.
In announcing the deal, Bristol Myers called mavacamten a "significant medium and long-term growth driver" and said it plans to explore use of the drug in additional indications, including non-obstructive HCM. The company also plans to advance MyoKardia's other experimental drugs, including two that are in cinical testing.
The acquisition marks Bristol's most significant deal since acquiring Celgene in a mega-merger last year. The company is bracing for a big hit to its cardiovascular franchise, with flagship medicine Eliquis potentially facing lower-cost competitors beginning in 2026.
MyoKardia went public at $10 per share in 2015. Its price climbed 58%, to $221.40, early Monday morning.