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Eyes On Pharma Blog 

Eyes on BioPharma Portfolio Strategies


This week we've had Eyes On how BioPharma are bolstering their Portfolios for long-term success. From licensing assets to expanding manufacturing, firms are moving to meet patient needs and demand for therapeutics for healthier living.

Meck M&A

Merck is pressed to replace Keytruda revenues which is due to lose its patent at the end of 2028. Currently, the drug’s earnings amount to approximately half of the company’s pharmaceutical sales, topping $25 billion in sales last year.


In recent years Merck has struck several sizeable acquisitions, including the $11 billion buyout of Acceleron in 2021, a $10.8 billion takeover of Prometheus Biosciences in 2023 and a cancer drug licensing deal with Daiichi Sankyo last October worth up to $22 billion.


With Assets like sotatercept for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (acquired via Acceleron) and tulisokibart for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (acquired via Prometheus), the beginning of the next decade will see Merck’s pipeline earnings rise to an estimated $35 billion in sales from the company’s expanded portfolio.


Merck has not given up on Keytruda however, and have plans to address the probable generic competition. They are developing a subcutaneous formulation which could be priced in line with its IV generic competitors. They hope to drive patient switches to the new formulation rather than generics, to bolster the franchise.

In addition, there are, reportedly, additional assets valued up to $15 billion that are also on Merck’s BD agenda. For more details see the article on BioPharmaDive, and these reports from PharmaTell Studio: Pipeline Execution, Strong BD & Pipeline Execution.

Roche & Regeneron Acquisitions

Roche is seeking more deals to compete with Lilly and Novo, and Regeneron is looking for opportunities to fill the gaps in the obesity market. Both companies are targeting combination products.


After Roche’s deal to buy Carmot for up to $3.1 billion in December, they are still on the lookout for deals and partners who can provide additional drug candidates which could be combined with Carmot products in development. It should not be forgotten that Roche was one of the first companies to put GLP-1 into clinical development but stopped development due to nausea side effects.


In 4Q23 earnings calls, Regeneron’s Yancopoulos explained that their obesity strategy is to develop combination products, including their own trevogrumab & garetosmab, in combination with Novo’s semaglutide which may offer higher quality weight loss while maintaining fat loss without loss of muscle - which Yancopoulos believes could be a future public health issue.


Trevogrumab is an anti-myostatin and this is a strategy adopted by another of other companies active in this field. Garetrosmab is an anti-activin A medicine which may help to maintain weight loss. Regeneron also believe that their in-house discovery of two muscle ligand antibodies that control muscle size will provide further combination options that could actually help to increase muscle size. For more details see the Bloomberg and FierceBioTech articles and these from PharmaTell: Roche + Carmot, Carmot Pipeline


 Novo Manufacturing Expansion

Novo Holdings, major shareholder, increases investment in Novo Nordisk with Catalent Acquisition. As Novo Holdings takes CDMO Catalent private, they sold 3 manufacturing plants to Novo Nordisk to increase manufacturing capacity for Ozempic/Wegovy. These sites already work with Novo for the fill-finish of the products. This will help Novo meet demand for the two products, which are currently restricted to ensure current patients continue to have access to their therapies while supply is increased.

Catalent has more than 50 sites, which include production facilities for small-molecule pills, injectable biologics, as well as cell and gene therapies. This will enhance Novo Holdings supply network and provide flexibility and expansion opportunities for the group. For more details on this topic read this from BioPharmaDive, and these from PharmaTell Studio: Novo Acquires 3 Sites, First Take on Novo Catalent Deal

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