Turns out, selling ThromboGenics wasn't such a good idea. After weighing its options, the Belgian company figures it won't look for a buyer. Instead, it will recruit a U.S. marketing partner for its slow-moving eye drug Jetrea.
The company reportedly received offers of up to $1.3 billion, including a bid from Novartis ($NVS), which markets Jetrea outside the U.S., and its Swiss rival Roche ($RHBBY), which already has a U.S. sales force pushing Lucentis, a complementary eye treatment.
Thrombogenics hasn't said whether those offers fell apart--or were deemed insufficient. But in any case, it's no longer pursuing a sale. "M&A was one of the options on the table," spokesman Wouter Piepers told Bloomberg. "The board has decided not to pursue that road."
Piepers didn't address the company's quest for a marketing partner. It's clear, however, that ThromboGenics really needs the help. Let's just say its U.S. rollout of Jetrea, approved by the FDA last January, was less than successful. The company chose to go it alone with the launch, and managed to gin up only €20.3 million ($27.6 million) in sales for 2013.
"The launch failed in the U.S. and the product is kind of burned," KBC Securities analyst Jan De Kerpel told the news service. "The company realized they cannot do the commercialization on their own."
The problem doesn't lie with the size of the market; the company says about 250,000 patients a year develop symptomatic VMA, and only 7,000 used Jetrea in 2013. Because of the size of the market and dearth of treatment options, analysts figure Jetrea could hit $500 million in sales in the U.S.
Meanwhile, Novartis' Alcon unit sold enough Jetrea outside the U.S. to warrant €1 million ($1.36 million) in royalty payments last year. The drug was approved in Europe last March to treat vitreomacular traction (VMT).
- read the Bloomberg story