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Astellas Takes Another Stab at CV


Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive-01-29-2009
Volume 0
Issue 0

Astellas bumped its bid for CV Therapeutics to $1 billion, but analysts doubt the offer is high enough to get the biotech's board of directors to sign on the dotted line.

CV Therapeutics (CVT) said Wednesday that it will once again review Astellas’ $1 billion dollar bid, having rejecting a similar proposal in November. Observers, however, are skeptical about whether the deal will go through.

Astellas Pharma Inc. is offering to buy all outstanding CVT shares for $16 per share in cash-a 69 percent premium on CVT’s 60-day average closing price.

CVT responded in a press release that it would consider the proposition.  “Because Astellas, by its recent announcement, has sought to revive its previously rejected proposal, the CV Therapeutics board of directors will again review developments in the context of the company’s strategic plans and the long term interests of its stockholders.”

Masafumi Nogimori, president and CEO of Astellas, said in a press release published Tuesday that Astellas was disappointed CVT’s board of directors had rejected their previous proposal; Nogimori believes the two companies are a good fit. “CV Therapeutics’ product portfolio would complement Astellas’ US based hospital and cardiology business,” Nogimori said. “Our established infrastructure and proven track record in drug development and commercialization provide an ideal platform to increase the value inherent in CV Therapeutics.”

Astellas and CVT partnered earlier in 2008 to market Lexiscan (regadenoson) injection, an A2A adenosine receptor agonist for use as a pharmacologic stress agent in radionuclide myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI). But CVT’s recently relabeled angina treatment, Ranexa (ranolazine), for which it has exclusive rights, would be a desirable addition to Astellas’ product lineup should the deal pan out. In addition to the angina indication, Ranexa’s label now states that Ranexa reduces arrhythmias in patients with coronary artery disease and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) in patients with diabetes, and can be used alone or in combination with traditional therapies.

Although Astellas is aggressively pursuing the deal by going public, analysts are skeptical that CVT will bite. “I think the board and definitely upper management believe Ranexa’s new label in the US makes it a more valuable company,” said Craig Gordon, a biotechnology research analyst with Cowen and Company. “They believe that sales are going to accelerate dramatically, and because [of that] they feel that $16 a share is likely too low.”

Gordon also predicts that if Astellas is turned away again, it’s unlikely another company will swoop in to make a deal. “One discouraging issue for a big global is that Ranexa is a very pricey drug. Our estimates are that it costs about $2,200 per year, per patient,” he said. “So Ranexa will face headwinds. The cost is a major hindrance, and it’s going to take a lot of marketing and a lot of time to penetrate the primary care setting.”

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