Rare disease specialist Spectrum eyes potential $2B-plus sale: Bloomberg

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Hematology- and oncology-focused Spectrum Pharmaceuticals is exploring a sale, Bloomberg's sources say. (Pixabay)

Biopharma M&A has picked up this year with deals dominated by rare diseases and cancer, more than $34 billion all told, not counting Takeda's hefty $62 billion offer for Shire. Now, the much smaller Spectrum Pharmaceuticals—itself a rare disease and cancer specialist—is testing the waters for a potential sale, according to Bloomberg. 

Citing people familiar with the process, the news service reports that Spectrum is working with Jefferies to explore a deal. As Bloomberg notes, the company could decide against selling.

Spectrum's shares have been on a roll in recent years, growing from a low point of $3.52 in late 2016 to more than $20 at Tuesday's close, after the deal news hit. The company's market value has grown to more than $2 billion along the way. Last year, Spectrum generated $116.2 million in sales, and it's predicting between $95 million and $115 million in 2018 sales.

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Spectrum markets six oncology and hematology products, including one that Reinsurance Group of America profiled last year as one of the world's priciest medications. Foloytn, according to the group, carries a list price of about $450,000 annually to treat peripheral T-cell lymphoma. 

Other meds in the company's portfolio include Zevalin for certain non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients and Marqibo to treat certain patients with Philadelphia chromosome-negative acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

It's also seeking to expand its offerings, including with poziotinib, an HER inhibitor under phase 2 testing in several cancers that Spectrum licensed in 2015 from South Korea-based Hanmi Pharmaceuticals. It's seeking a breakthrough designation from the FDA for that drug and aiming for patent protection out to 2037, execs said on a conference call last month.

After notably slow M&A in recent years, some industry watchers have predicted dealmaking would pick up in 2018 after the U.S. government passed tax reform. Sure enough, Sanofi nabbed Bioverativ and Ablynx in January in deals worth $11.6 billion and $4.8 billion, respectively. 

RELATED: The world's most pricey drugs, from a $1.2M gene therapy to a $450K lymphoma med 

The same month, Celgene bought CAR-T player Juno Therapeutics for $9 billion, and Novartis in April scooped up AveXis for $8.7 billion. Takeda in May followed those buyouts with the biggest biopharma deal in recent years, a $62 billion offer for Shire.

Recent success in gene therapy will likely trigger more M&A this year as global biopharmas continue seek growth, market watchers recently predicted in Forbes. Last year, Gilead Sciences bought Kite Pharma for $11.9 billion to get a foothold in the promising CAR-T field. 

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