Arrowhead acquires Novartis' RNAi assets, but Alnylam CEO calls them 'unuseful.' Who's right?

RNAi leaders Alnylam ($ALNY) and Arrowhead Research ($ARWR) have yet to commercialize any of their therapies, but in a sign of the competition that lies ahead, their CEOs are publicly disagreeing over the value of Novartis' ($NVS) RNAi assets. Arrowhead acquired the assets, including the rights to three preclinical candidates, for $35 million. Alnylam CEO John Maraganore said the assets were "pretty unuseful." He told FierceBiotech, "I think the deal reflects the value of those assets," adding, "What Novartis did was frankly pretty disappointing in terms of any advance in the field. It's exactly what you'd expect from not much." Arrowhead CEO Chris Anzalone responded, "I don't think John has looked at them like we did. … Because we entered early (into buyout discussions), no one had a chance to. We were thrilled by them." Someday we will find out whether Novartis' efforts lead to a payoff for Arrowhead. Perhaps the CEOs' disagreement is a sign of healthy competition in the nascent field of RNAi therapies. They both have a lot of work to do to improve on the zero commercial products the companies have put out so far. More from FierceBiotech | More