Press review


Bayer nearing U.S. agreement on Monsanto deal

BERLIN, 13 Apr (APM) - Bayer is nearing a U.S. agreement on its $62.5 billion deal to acquire agricultural group Monsanto after it agreed to sell its digital farming business to Germany's BASF, reported Handelsblatt (p21), Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) (p21) and Sueddeutsche Zeitung (p17) on Thursday.
The changes were agreed with the U.S. Justice Department (DoJ) as part of an antitrust approval, according to sources quoted by The Wall Street Journal. A few remaining details have to be hammered out before the official announcement.
The European Commission said it has approved Bayer’s modifications to the commitments it made to get approval for the Monsanto purchase in March (APMHE 57398) and that it is still assessing whether BASF is a suitable buyer for the units under an April 30 deadline.
Bayer had previously only agreed to grant a licence to competitors on its digital farming activity.

Novartis took a high risk by buying AveXis

Novartis has heavily invested to buy the U.S. company AveXis in a $8.7 billion cash deal to boost its position as a gene therapy and neuroscience leader, reported FAZ (p22) Handelsblatt (p23) and SZ (p22) on Tuesday (APMHE 57603).
Avexis is "a small gene therapy specialist from Illinois that has not yet earned a cent and made a loss of $218 million" in 2017, wrote FAZ.
Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan has bet on the success of Avexis's AVXS-101, which is in development as a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

Pfizer and Novartis important players in M&A wave

Pfizer and Novartis will be the main players in the current merger and acquisition wave, wrote Handelsblatt on Monday (p16-17) - before Novartis announced buying AveXis.
Pfizer, which continues to struggle with weak growth, has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to make major deals. The most obvious takeover candidate is the fast-growing U.S. competitor Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) to boost Pfizer's oncology position, wrote Handelsblatt. The deal could be more than $120 billion.
Novartis, which is flush with cash after selling its stake in a consumer healthcare joint venture for $13 billion to GlaxoSmithKline, may approach mid-sized pharmaceutical and biotech specialists such as Alexion, Incyte or Vertex, the paper wrote. Biogen is also seen as a takeover candidate, alongside smaller companies such as Biomarin, Alnylam or Bluebird Bio.
Other potential buyers are Merck & Co, Amgen, Gilead and Novo Nordisk.

MorphoSys goes to Nasdaq

German biotech MorphoSys plans to issue 8.3 million depository receipts for new shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange, reported FAZ on Tuesday (p19).
The aim is to raise money to fund research for its drug candidate MOR 208 developed in lymph cell cancer.

Roche and Qiagen at the forefront in digital data analysis in cancer

Roche and Qiagen are at the forefront in digital data analysis in cancer, FAZ reported on Monday (p22).
Roche's acquisition of Flatiron Health for almost $2 billion is aimed at building a health platform in cancer treatments based on the analysis of electronic health records in oncology, the paper said.
Roche also signed a partnership with its rival General Electric (GE) in January. The aim is to combine GE's imaging diagnostics with Roche in vitro diagnostics, Roche's head of diagnostics business Roland Diggelmann told FAZ.
Roche has already developed the software required for this system, which is to be sold primarily to hospitals. The data from GE devices would be added as an additional application, he said.
Qiagen, which is much smaller than Roche, is also well-equipped, FAZ wrote. Its Genereader system, available for the most common cancers, is able to analyse a patient's genome for several hundred or thousands of gene mutations and their interactions within a few days with only one test run.

Drug side effects often lead to inpatient admissions,

Drug side effects often lead to inpatient admissions, according to a study of four German emergency units, SZ reports on Friday (p16).
Approximately 7% of patients in hospital emergency admissions in Germany experienced drug side effects and among them 90% were hospitalised. Patients with drug side effects were taking seven different drugs at the same time on average.
The study was conducted by the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM).

Theranos lays off most of its remaining employees

Embattled blood-testing company Theranos laid off most of its remaining employees in an attempt to delay the company's insolvency application for as long as possible, reported FAZ on Thursday (p19) (APMHE 57646).
In the course of the staff reduction, only about 25 of the last 125 positions will be available in the future, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.



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