Sanofi, Merck reportedly place bids for Amylin

Who's bidding on Amylin Pharmaceuticals ($AMLN)? Bloomberg sources say Sanofi ($SNY) and Merck ($MRK) have each made offers of $25 per share or more, while Takeda Pharmaceutical and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) have told Amylin they'll put offers in, too. At a $25-per-share price, Amylin would be valued at more than $4 billion.

That would trump Bristol-Myers' unsolicited bid of $3.5 billion, which Amylin rejected earlier this year. It was that bid that prompted Amylin to start shopping for potential buyers. At the time, almost everyone who's anyone in Big Pharma was said to be kicking tires at Amylin; Bloomberg's sources say Pfizer ($PFE), AstraZeneca ($AZN) and Roche ($RHHBY) all inked confidentiality agreements about the Amylin sale, but whether they'll join the actual bidding isn't clear at this point.

Why so much interest in Amylin? One word: diabetes. The company specializes in drugs for the fast-growing malady, which is spreading in emerging markets as well as in the U.S. "Diabetes is one of the last few monolithic market opportunities," Rodman & Renshaw analyst Michael King told Bloomberg. "All you have to do is look at the statistics. The numbers are enormous and growing."

Amylin's recently approved once-weekly Bydureon is tagged as a blockbuster. Byetta, the earlier generation, once-daily form, has seen sales erode somewhat over the last few years, but it still brought in $517 million in net sales for 2011. Plus, at around $4 billion, Amylin is a bite-sized acquisition that fits into most major drugmakers' bolt-on deal strategies.

Sanofi and Merck could add those drugs into their current diabetes operations; for Bristol-Myers, AstraZeneca and Roche, Amylin's products could replace diabetes drug candidates they've failed to bring to market, Bloomberg points out. "Each of these has a diabetes franchise and sales force," Cowen & Co.'s Phil Nadeau told the news service. "They could presumably make Bydureon a bigger product than Amylin is making it."

- read the Bloomberg story