Vimizim panel nod fuels new BioMarin buyout buzz

Orphan drugmaker BioMarin Pharmaceutical ($BMRN) may have plenty of would-be adoptive parents before long. In the wake of Shire's ($SHPG) $4.2 billion ViroPharma ($VPHM) deal and BioMarin's own victory with an FDA advisory panel, Big Pharma companies have more incentive to consider buying out the smaller company, analysts tell Bloomberg.

BioMarin already sells four pricey drugs to treat rare disorders, including enzyme replacement therapies Naglazyme and Aldurazyme. Together, they brought in sales of more than $500 million over the last year, the news service notes. And last week, the company got a thumbs up from FDA's outside experts on its new Morquio A treatment Vimizim.

Expectations for the new drug are high, with analysts projecting $416 million in annual sales by 2017. That would make it the company's best seller. The FDA is scheduled to make a decision by Feb. 28.

Meanwhile, larger drugmakers are looking to build their own capabilities in the orphan-drug world. Targeted at rare diseases, these treatments can command high prices--as much as $400,000 a year in a few cases. With primary-care blockbusters harder to come by these days, specialty drugs are where it's at, and rare diseases are about as specialized as they get.

BioMarin would be a rich buy, however. With its own stable of marketed products, another waiting in the wings, and more in the pipeline, the company could attract bids of at least $93 per share, one analyst told Bloomberg. That would amount to at least $13 billion. "There are only a limited number of companies that do rare diseases well and BioMarin is at the top of the list," William Blair analyst Tim Lugo told the news service.

Who would be up for that sort of price? Bloomberg suggests Sanofi ($SNY), which bought the rare disease specialist Genzyme in 2010, and Pfizer ($PFE). GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) was said to be eyeing a bid, but nothing has come of that. There's also Roche ($RHHBY), also rumored to be shopping for BioMarin, but the Swiss drugmaker is pretty skeptical of valuations in the rare-disease area these days. Indeed, BioMarin's recent success may have priced it out of the market. As Wedbush analyst Liana Moussatos told Bloomberg,  "I'm sure plenty of companies would love to be able to buy [BioMarin]. Except it's too expensive."

- see the Bloomberg story

Special Report: Top 20 Orphan Drugs by 2018 | Top Biopharma M&A Deals 2012

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