Healthcare Roundup – UniQure out-licenses hemophilia B gene therapy, Bad COVID news is good news for COVID vaccine & drugmakers

Published on: June 24, 2020
Author: Amy Liu

UniQure out-licenses hemophilia B gene therapy in deal valued up to ~$2.1B

UniQure (NASDAQ:QURE) inks an agreement with CSL Limited (OTCPK:CMXHF) unit CSL Behring granting the latter global rights to gene therapy etranacogene dezaparvovec for the treatment of hemophilia B.

Under the terms of the deal, QURE will receive $450M in upfront cash, up to $1.6B in milestones and tiered double-digit (up to low-twenties) royalties on net sales.

QURE will be responsible for completing the ongoing HOPE-B study, manufacturing process validation and product supply until manufacturing can be transferred to Behring.

Behring will reimburse QURE for clinical development and regulatory activities performed under the contract but will be responsible for regulatory filings and, of course, commercialization.

Investors appear disappointed with the agreement. Shares down 6% after hours.

Bad COVID news is good news for COVID vaccine & drugmakers

The silver lining in the persistence of COVID-19 infections, at least for some investors, is the bullish outlook for companies developing vaccines and/or therapies for the respiratory infection.

Overall, the number of U.S. infections has been trending downward, but new infections are being a bit stubborn (continued expansion of testing is a contributing factor). Recent hotspots include Texas, Florida, South Carolina, Georgia and Louisiana.

Selected tickers: Vir Biotechnology (VIR +11.3%), Dynavax Technologies (DVAX +4.6%), Novavax (NVAX +12.6%), iBio (IBIO +10.7%), BioNTech (BNTX +0.2%), Arcturus Therapeutics (ARCT +7.4%), Soligenix (SNGX +4.4%), GeoVax Labs (OTCQB:GOVX +3.6%), Vaxart (VXRT +9.8%), Moderna (MRNA +2.6%) Inovio Pharmaceuticals (INO +15.5%), CytoDyn (OTCQB:CYDY +10.8%)

Bayer agrees to ~$10.5B settlement of Roundup litigation

Bayer (OTCPK:BAYRY +1%) says it reached a $10.1B-$10.9B settlement of tens of thousands of lawsuits with U.S. plaintiffs who have alleged the company’s Roundup herbicide causes cancer, confirming earlier speculation.

As part of the deal with plaintiffs, Bayer will pay $8.8B-$9.6B to resolve current Roundup litigation and an additional $1.25B to address potential future litigation.

Three cases that have gone to trial will continue through the appeals process and are not covered by the settlement.

Bayer also says it resolved dicamba drift litigation for payment of as much as $400M and most PCB water litigation exposure for ~$820M.

Feds to end support for COVID-19 testing sites

CNBC reports that the Trump administration is ending financial support for 13 COVID-19 testing sites (actually sample collection sites) at the end of the month.

There are currently 13 federally funded testing sites across five states. Of those 13, seven are in Texas.

La Jolla to acquire Tetraphase Pharma

La Jolla Pharmaceutical (NASDAQ:LJPC) and Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:TTPH) have entered into a definitive merger agreement, under which La Jolla would acquire Tetraphase, through a tender offer, for $43M in upfront cash plus potential future cash payments of up to $16M pursuant to contingent value rights (CVRs).

Under the terms of the agreement, the upfront cash consideration will be as follows: (i) $2.00/share of Tetraphase common stock; (ii) $2.68/share of Tetraphase common stock underlying the common stock warrants issued in November 2019; and (iii) $2.69/share of TTPH shares issued in January 2020.

Tetraphase equity holders would also be entitled to receive, for each common share, one non-tradeable CVR.

The transaction is expected to close in Q3.

TTPH terminated its previous merger agreement with Melinta Therapeutics since La Jolla’s bid was superior. It paid a termination fee of $1.15M to Melinta as stipulated in their contract.

TTPH is up 5% premarket.

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