Healthcare Business

Years Later, MS Drug Ownership Consolidation -- M&A Next?

Biogen Idec Inc. (NASDAQ: BIIB) may be a half decade or so late on this move, but as the saying goes “better late than never.” The biotech and drug company is the leader in multiple sclerosis treatment, and it has finally decided to take full ownership of its blockbuster multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri. The company reached an agreement to pay Irish partner Elan Corp. PLC (NYSE: ELN) $3.25 billion plus future royalties on sales of the drug.

The terms call for Biogen Idec to pay additional royalties to Elan of 12% for 12 months, followed by a contingent fee of up to 18% on Tysabri sales of up to $2 billion and 25% thereafter. Elan recently recorded that its total Tysabri sales were up almost 10% to $306.6 million in the third quarter of 2012. This is another big move by Elan, as it recently sold the remaining stake in Alkermes PLC (NASDAQ: ALKS). It sold some 76% or so a year ago (March 2012) for some $381 million at the time.

What is so interesting is that Elan is trading lower on the news by 5%, at $9.95 against a 52-week range of $9.64 to $15.27. Yahoo! Finance lists its market cap as being $6.2 billion. Another interesting thing is that the MS drug market has grown more competitive and a new entrant just came on the stage.

Opexa Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: OPXA) just got on the map after securing an option and license agreement with Merck Serono on its multiple sclerosis treatment, sending its $7 million in market cap stock up from $1.21 to $3.15 in one trading session. The potential payments to Opexa could total $225 million, excluding royalty payments, if all goals are met.

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