Monday, August 4, 2014

Roche Buys Santaris (Because It Could Not Buy ISIS)

Minutes ago, Roche announced the acquisition of Danish antisense company Santaris for $250M in upfront cash and $200M in contingent payment.  Given that Santaris only has a microRNA inhibitor for HCV in the clinical pipeline which many in the industry believe is outdated given recent successes in the treatment of HCV, this purchase is a big vote of confidence by Roche in the RNA Therapeutics platform.

This latest development comes after Roche struck a Huntington’s-based deal with ISIS Pharmaceuticals in April 2013 resulting in a development candidate as revealed today by ISIS in its earnings report.  Roche was fortunate to get that deal, because ISIS was about to strike a muchbroader neurology deal with BiogenIdec, leaving it hungry for all those other targets.  Apparently, Roche was happy with what it saw, also following a smaller deal with Santaris just in January this year on undisclosed targets.

This deal flow is reminiscent of what Roche did in RNAi Therapeutics in 2006/7.  After Merck took out Sirna Therapeutics, Roche saw a need to partner with Alnylam instead, at least this is how the narrative goes. 

You can bet your house that Roche at one point or another wanted to buy ISIS, but given its varied partnerships and general unwillingness to sell itself had to settle with archrival Santaris (--> ongoing litigation which perhaps Roche is more able to settle on ISIS' terms).  But, hey, maybe history is repeating itself and ISIS already signed itself away to AstraZeneca and we will hear about it soon.

PS: for the stock junkies (I know there are many here), this news also bodes well for Marina Biotech given its highly similar chemistry to that of Santaris: LNA and CRN.


Anonymous said...

If you have time could you explain why atularen would get EU approval
PTC Therapeutics Receives Conditional Approval in the European Union for Translarna™ for the treatment of Nonsense Mutation Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
- The First Treatment Approved for DMD -

before SRPT'S eteplirsen?

and will this conditional approval have implications for other drugs in Europe like say Isis Smnrx?

I know this is not full approval but it does let patients get access and a little help.


Anonymous said...

When unapproved drugs are the only hope

A movement has begun in several states to address the issue of access to experimental medicines. Called Right to Try, laws have been passed in Colorado, Missouri and Louisiana, and are slated to be on ballot in the fall in Arizona. They aim to facilitate patients' access to experimental medicines by eliminating the need to get the FDA's go-ahead, provided the compounds have been through the initial round of safety testing in phase 1 clinical trials.

"The current process is incredibly cumbersome for sick patients," Darcy Olsen, CEO of the Goldwater Institute, a conservative policy organization that designed the legislation, said in an interview. "The Right to Try laws make it so that as soon as a doctor tells a patient there is a promising drug for you, the patient can then go out right away to the company and seek that approval, and that's going to cut down on the time that patients have to wait enormously."

As Goldwater and other supporters lobby for Right to Try, Olsen said she expects that those laws will be in at least half the United States by this time next year.
‘Right to beg’

Anonymous said...

Dirk, despite your high praise for ISIS, do you not have any hopes for a bomb shell from ALNY in the next couple of days? Don't tell me ALNY is on the prohibited to speak about list.

Anonymous said...

Theory: Roche approached Isis, but Isis said it wasn't interested. So Roche buys Santaris to put pressure on Isis to sell because Santaris is challenging Isis' European patent for generation 2.5 chemistry. Roche steps in and is much more of a threat because it has more credibility than Santaris, especially in Europe. Plus Isis has a patent infringement suit against Santaris pending (although it is not clear how important those patents are to Isis).

Anonymous said...

There are sooooooo many skeletons in that Santaris closet... lawsuits, stolen IP, crap data, Roche will be doing a Merck in a few years time...

Anonymous said...

Well, would have been the same if they had bought ISIS - lawsuits, crap IP, manipulation of data.

By Dirk Haussecker. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: This blog is not intended for distribution to or use by any person or entity who is a citizen or resident of, or located in any locality, state, country or other jurisdiction where such distribution, publication, availability or use would be contrary to law or regulation or which would subject the author or any of his collaborators and contributors to any registration or licensing requirement within such jurisdiction. This blog expresses only my opinions, they may be flawed and are for entertainment purposes only. Opinions expressed are a direct result of information which may or may not be accurate, and I do not assume any responsibility for material errors or to provide updates should circumstances change. Opinions expressed in this blog may have been disseminated before to others. This blog should not be taken as investment, legal or tax advice. The investments referred to herein may not be suitable for you. Investments particularly in the field of RNAi Therapeutics and biotechnology carry a high risk of total loss. You, the reader must make your own investment decisions in consultation with your professional advisors in light of your specific circumstances. I reserve the right to buy, sell, or short any security including those that may or may not be discussed on my blog.