Five things for pharma marketers to know: Friday, April 24


The FDA granted AbbVie's all-oral interferon-free medication for hepatitis-C priority review status. The drug, which is composed of ombitasvir, paritaprevir and ritonavir and is administered with ribavirin, cured the virus among previously untreated patients with the genotype-4 variation of the disease after 12 weeks of treatment. AbbVie noted in a statement that this is the first oral interferon-free treatment the FDA is evaluating.

Merck's experimental hepatitis-C treatment cured 95% of previously untreated patients after 12 weeks of treatment, putting it at the same virus-clearing rate as Gilead Sciences' Harvoni. The drugmaker recently scored a breakthrough therapy designation for patients with the genotype-4 form of the disease.

Mylan offered $33 billion in cash and stock in a formal offer to take over Perrigo Company, increasing the informal $29 billion bid Perrigo rejected earlier this week. The offer is part of a larger M&A daisy chain—Teva Pharmaceuticals wants to buy Mylan for $40 billion, but Mylan does not want to be purchased. Scooping up Perrigo could sour Teva's interest, writer Ronald Barusch noted in a commentary in The Wall Street Journal. Perrigo said it rejected Mylan's initial offer because it undervalued the company. Teva said in a statement following Mylan's official bid that it is committed to the Mylan acquisition.

AstraZeneca gave Celgene major rights to the experimental cancer drug MEDI4736 in exchange for $450 million. AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot told Reuters the drug would thrive under Celgene's direction in a way it could not if his company remained the lead. Reuters noted that the agreement means AstraZeneca is giving up rights to about 50% of the drug's sales for potential blood-cancer indications. Critics said the deal looks like a short-term effort to fill a revenue gap.

Novartis wants to bulk up with acquisitions this year now that the deal in which it swapped its vaccines business for GlaxoSmithKline's oncology pipeline closed. The company told investors it wants to spend between $2 billion and $5 billion on acquisitions this year, BioCentury reported.