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Top ten biopharma M&As of 2021

Credit: Teodoro Ortiz Tarrascusa / Alamy Stock Photo

Biopharma merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in 2021 so far is showing signs of returning to typical levels following the disruption of the pandemic. Although there have been no mega-mergers, most of the top 10 M&As in biopharma by deal value up to August 2021 had a value greater than $1 billion (Table 1; data provided by DealForma). The largest value acquisition took place in February 2021, as Jazz Pharmaceuticals acquired GW Pharmaceuticals for $7.2 billion, gaining its approved therapy Epidiolex (cannabidiol), which is indicated for seizures associated with rare forms of epilepsy, as well as a pipeline of cannabinoid-based drug candidates.

The success of mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 has provided a boost to the wider field of mRNA-based products. In the second-highest-value M&A, Sanofi recently acquired long-term partner and clinical mRNA therapeutics company Translate Bio for $3.2 billion. The deal includes two vaccine candidates for which development was initiated through a 2018 deal between the two companies. This acquisition is the second mRNA-focused deal this year for Sanofi, which acquired Tidal Therapeutics and its mRNA technology platform for in vivo profiling of immune cells for $470 million in April 2021.

Table 1 | Top ten mergers and acquisitions by total deal value in 2021

Seller

Buyer

Date

Total deal value ($ million)

Upfront payment and cash equity ($ million)

Stage at deal announced

Assets involved

GW Pharmaceuticals

Jazz Pharmaceuticals

February 2021

$7,200

$7,200

Approved

Approved: Epidiolex.

Translate Bio

Sanofi

August 2021

$3,200

$3,200

Phase 2

Phase 2: MRT5005, an inhaled mRNA for CF; phase 1: MRT5500, an mRNA vaccine for COVID-19 already partnered with Sanofi.

Viela Bio

Horizon Therapeutics

February 2021

$3,050

$3,050

Approved

Approved: Uplizna, a B cell-depleting humanized mAb for rare neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder; phase 2: VIB4920 and VIB7734; phase 1: VIB1116.

TeneoBio

Amgen

July 2021

$2,500

$900

Phase 1

Phase 1: TNB-585, a bispecific T cell engager for metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer.

Five Prime Therapeutics

Amgen

March 2021

$1,900

$1,900

Phase 3

Phase 3: bemarituzumab, an anti-FGFR2b antibody.

Pandion Therapeutics

Merck & Co.

February 2021

$1,850

$1,850

Phase 1

Phase 1: PT101; TALON technology.

Constellation Pharmaceuticals

MorphoSys

June 2021

$1,700

$1,700

Phase 3

Phase 3: pelabresib, a BET inhibitor for myelofibrosis; phase 2: CPI-0209, a second-generation EZH2 inhibitor for hematological and solid tumors.

Kymab Group

Sanofi

January 2021

$1,500

$1,100

Phase 2

Phase 2a: KY1005, a human mAb targeting immune system regulator OX40L for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis.

Protomer Technologies

Eli Lilly and Co.

July 2021

$1,000

$1,000

Platform

Peptide and protein engineering platform.

Arvelle Therapeutics

Gruppo Angelini

January 2021

$960

ND

Approved

Approved: Cenobamate.

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d43747-021-00107-w

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