Sanofi to buy Kadmon, beefing up transplant portfolio

Sanofi on Wednesday announced a definitive merger agreement to acquire Kadmon for $9.50 per share in cash, representing a total equity value of approximately $1.9 billion. The deal, which has been approved by the boards of both companies, will expand Sanofi's transplant portfolio with the addition of the chronic graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) treatment Rezurock (belumosudil).

The ROCK2 inhibitor gained FDA approval in July for the treatment of adult and paediatric patients 12 years and older with chronic GvHD after the failure of at least two prior lines of systemic therapy. Rezurock was launched in August in the US and has been added to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network's oncology guidelines as a suggested systemic agent for steroid-refractory chronic GvHD.

Addition to general medicines unit

Sanofi's transplant business currently comprises the broad immunosuppressive and immunomodulating agent Thymoglobulin (anti-thymocyte globulin) and the haematopoietic stem cell mobiliser Mozobil (plerixafor).  Jefferies analysts noted that the addition of Rezurock will create synergies in the transplant market, forecasting that the product could generate peak sales of $1 billion.

"Our existing scale, expertise and relationships in transplant create an ideal platform to achieve the full potential of Rezurock," remarked Olivier Charmeil, executive vice president of the French drugmaker's general medicines unit. The drug is also under development for the treatment of diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis, while Kadmon's pipeline includes compounds for immune and fibrotic diseases, as well as immuno-oncology therapies.

The transaction, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, represents a premium of 79% over Kadmon's closing price on September 7. Analysts at Jefferies said the premium is "typical of biotech deals."

For further analysis, read ViewPoints: Sanofi snags new transplant drug experts are keen on, and ViewPoints: Sanofi remains pharma's most aggressive acquirer.

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