Bristol-Myers Squibb finalises Celgene takeover

Bristol-Myers Squibb announced Wednesday that it has completed its $74-billion acquisition of Celgene following the receipt of regulatory approval from all government authorities, including most recently the US Federal Trade Commission. The US antitrust approval was contingent upon Celgene offloading Otezla (apremilast), which it agreed to do in August under a deal with Amgen for $13.4 billion. Bristol-Myers Squibb said it expects the Otezla divestiture to be completed "promptly" following closing of the merger, and that it plans to prioritise use of the proceeds to cut back on debt. 

Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Giovanni Caforio stated that "with our leading franchises in oncology, haematology, immunology and cardiovascular disease, and one of the most diverse and promising pipelines in the industry, I know we will deliver on our vision of transforming patients' lives." 

The company highlighted some "tangible advancements" since the merger agreement was announced in January, including progress regarding the patent estate for Revlimid (lenalidomide), FDA approvals for the JAK2 inhibitor Inrebic (fedratinib) in myelofibrosis and the erythroid maturation agent Reblozyl (luspatercept-aamt) for anaemia in beta thalassaemia, as well as regulatory filings of luspatercept and ozanimod in the US and Europe. It added that the company has also made "substantial progress" toward the planning of a successful integration. 

Meanwhile, Bristol-Myers Squibb announced that its board has authorised an accelerated share repurchase programme to buy back $7 billion of its common stock. The company anticipates that all repurchases will be completed by the end of the second quarter in 2020.

In separate news, Bristol-Myers Squibb reported Wednesday that a Phase III study comparing the combination of the PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo (nivolumab) plus the anti-CTLA-4 antibody Yervoy (ipilimumab), versus Opdivo alone, for the adjuvant treatment of certain patients with resected high-risk melanoma failed to meet one of its co-primary endpoints.

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