Celgene To Buy Partner Pharmion | Chemical & Engineering News
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Issue Date: November 20, 2007

Celgene To Buy Partner Pharmion

$2.9 billion purchase will strengthen Celgene's oncology pipeline
Department: Business

Seeking to broaden its portfolio of blood and cancer therapies, Celgene has agreed to acquire Boulder, Colo.-based Pharmion for $2.9 billion.

Celgene is a midsized drug company formed in 1986 after the merger of Celanese and American Hoechst. In 1998, the Summit, N.J., firm received FDA approval for a multiple myeloma treatment based on thalidomide, an insomnia and morning sickness drug that caused birth defects in the 1950s and '60s.

Celgene subsequently won approval for Revlimid, an analog of thalidomide, also for multiple myeloma. Pharmion is the firm's first major acquisition.

"The acquisition of Pharmion is an exceptional strategic fit that will expand our role as a leader in hematology and oncology," says Celgene CEO Sol J. Barer.

The deal will bring Celgene several drugs and drug candidates, including Vidaza, approved in the U.S. for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and a myeloma treatment that Pharmion is developing for Europe based on thalidomide licensed from Celgene.

Pharmion has four products on the market and several in development that are focused on hematological and solid tumor cancers. Recent Phase II clinical trials demonstrated that Vidaza extended overall survival by 74% compared with conventional MDS regimes. Pharmion expects to apply for European approval of Vidaza for high-risk MDS before the end of the year.

Pharmion's thalidomide product is currently under review by the European Medicines Agency. The company expects a response by early 2008.

Friedman, Billings, Ramsey Group, an investment banking and stock research firm, sees Pharmion as an ideal fit for Celgene that comes at a good price. "Celgene's decision to acquire Pharmion was probably driven by the game-changing survival data on Vidaza in MDS," FBR analyst James Reddoch wrote in a note to clients. He expects the deal to add $1 billion in annual sales by 2012, based on Pharmion's current revenues and an estimate of $900 million in future Vidaza sales.

The acquisition is expected to close by the second quarter of 2008.

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