Cephalon Beefs Up Cancer Pipeline, Sanofi Bolsters Collaborative Activities

Includes: CEPH, SNY
by: The Burrill Report

By Marie Daghlian

Cephalon (NASDAQ:CEPH) is acquiring biotech startup Gemin X Pharmaceuticals for as much as $525 million to access its pipeline of first-in-class cancer therapeutics. It will pay $225 million in cash upfront, and up to $300 million more upon the achievement of certain regulatory and sales milestones.

Gemin X’s drug pipeline is based on reactivating programmed forms of cell death through the inhibition of metabolism in tumor cells. Its lead therapeutic candidate, obatoclax, is currently completing a mid-stage trial evaluating its safety and efficacy as a first line treatment in combination with standard therapy in patients with extensive stage small cell lung cancer—a disease with no currently approved treatment other than chemotherapy. Data from the trial will be presented at an upcoming meeting.

Cephalon has been on a deal-making spree in the past twelve months in an effort to boost revenues ahead of its blockbuster wakefulness drug Provigil losing patent protection in 2012. The Gemin X acquisition follows Cephalon’s $590 million purchase of Swiss generics firm Mepha for $590 million in February 2010 to boost near-term revenue. Last year it also acquired U.S. biotech Ception Therapeutics for its experimental asthma drug and struck a potential $2 billion licensing deal with Australian biotech Mesoblast to develop and commercialize therapeutics based on adult stem cells.

Sanofi-Aventis (NYSE:SNY), meanwhile, beefed up its collaborative activities with two new partnerships. Sanofi and the Columbia University Medical Center have entered into a three-year research collaboration for the development of innovative diabetes medicines. The French biopharma will work with the laboratory of Gerard Karsenty to investigate the role of the osteoblast-secreted peptide, osteocalcin, in diabetes management. He showed, in a landmark paper published in 2007, that osteocalcin influences blood sugar levels and fat deposition.

Sanofi-Aventis will sponsor the research and has an option to license and develop existing patents and results that may arise from the research into potential diabetes treatments. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Sanofi-Aventis’ subsidiary Fovea Pharmaceuticals also entered into a three-year research collaboration with Europe’s Vision Institute for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of ocular diseases. Fovea will have access to the Vision Institute's technological platforms to conduct studies and will be granted exclusive commercial rights to any treatments developed through the collaboration, with royalties being paid to Vision Institute members.

These collaborations follow February’s announcement that Sanofi Pasteur, its vaccine division, would work with the International Vaccine Institute to promote research into treatments for dengue fever.


Global Venture Financings
Company Location Amount Raised (USD M) Principal Activity
Synageva BioPharma Lexington, MA 25.0 Rare diseases
AgraQuest Davis, CA 17.7 Biopesticides
Core Essence Orthopedics Fort Washington, PA 11.5 Orthopedic devices
Still River Systems Littleton, MA 11.5 Proton therapy
AssureRx Cincinnati, OH 11.0 Personalized medicine
HealthTap Palo Alto, CA 2.4 Digital Health
PanTheryx Boulder, CO 0.5 Therapeutics
APIM Therapeutics Trondheim, Norway N/A Cancer therapeutics
Total Raised US 79.6
Total Raised Non-US N/A
Grants and Contracts
Company Funding Agency Amount Raised (USD M) Principal Activity
EdeniQ DOE Integrated Biorefinery Program 20.5 Corn-to-cellulosic ethanol
Genfit (France) OSEO 6.6 Cardiovascular disease biomarkers
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas 5.7 Cancer side effects
Canbex Therapeutics (NASDAQ:UK) Wellcome Trust Translation Award 2.8 Muscle spasms associated with MS
Zealand Pharma (Denmark) EUREKA Eurostars program 0.6 dual acting peptide drugs
Pepscan (Netherlands) EUREKA Eurostars program 0.6 dual acting peptide drugs
Lucigen NIH Phase I SBIR 0.2 Genomics
Zimmer US Department of Defense 13.5 Orthopedic implants
Total Grants and Contracts 50.5
Public Financings
Company Ticker Amount
Raised (USD M)
Financing Type
Chongqing Fuan Pharmaceuticals SHE:300194 213.5 IPO
PharmaGap (Canada) TSX-V:GAP 1.1 PIPE
Novadaq Technologies (Canada) TSX:NDQ 15.0 PIPE
PRANA Biotechnology (Australia) PRAN 6.2 PIPE
MethylGene (Canada) TSX:MYG 34.5 PIPE
Teva Pharmaceuticals (Israel) TEVA 750.0 Debt
Sanofi-Aventis (France) SNY 7,000.0 Debt
Quest Diagnostics DGX 1,250.0 Debt
Gilead Sciences GILD 1,000.0 Debt
Anacor Pharmaceuticals ANAC 30.0 Loan facility
CardioFocus Private 5.0 Debt financing
Total Public Financings-US 2,285.0
Total Public Financings-Non-US 8,020.3
Acquirer Target Deal Value
Cephalon Gemin X Pharmaceuticals 525.0 Cancer therapeutics
PerkinElmer CambridgeSoft and ArtusLabs 235.0 Tools/Technology
H.I.G. Capital Teleflex Medical 121.6 Medical devices
Utah Medical Products Femcare (United Kingdom) 40.6 Female medical devices
Merck KGaA (Germany) Biotest (Germany) N/A Tools/Technology
China Kanghui (China) Beijing Wei Rui Li Medical Device (China) N/A Medical devices
Septodont (France) Novalar N/A Dental therapy
AltheRx GSK's Solabegron (United Kingdom) N/A Overactive bladder
Company/Licenser Company/Licensee Deal Value
Auxilium Pharmaceuticals Asahi Kasei Pharma (Japan) 262.0 Rare diseases alliance
Seattle Genetics Abbott Laboratories 208.0 Cancer drug license
Champions Biotechnology Cephalon 28.4 Technology collaboration
Photolitec Zhejiang Hisun Pharmaceutical (China) 6.0 Tools collaboration
Bluebird Bio French Muscular Dystrophy Association 4.2 Hematology drug development agreement
EpiStem (United Kingdom) Sanofi-Aventis (France) 4.0 Cancer technology agreement
Nerviano Medical Sciences (Italy) Novartis (Switzerland) N/A Cancer drug license
RaQualia Pharma (Japan) Meiji Seika Kaisha (Japan) N/A Neurology license
Shenzhen Kang Sheng Bao Bio-Technology (China) SuperNova Diagnostics N/A Diagnostics collaboration
WaferGen Biosystems NuGEN Technologies N/A Technology collaboration
R-Tech Ueno (Japan) Sucampo Pharmaceuticals N/A Ophthalmic drug license
Genedata (Switzerland) UCB (Belgium) N/A Technology collaboration
Tesaro Amgen N/A Cancer drug license
Pozen Cilag (J&J) N/A Migraine drug license
Proctor & Gamble Teva Pharmaceutical (Israel) N/A OTC drugs partnership
Amyris Paraiso Bioenergia (Brazil) N/A Renewable chemicals partnership
Sanofi-Aventis (France) Columbia University Medical Center N/A Diabetes research collaboration
Sanofi-Aventis (France) European Vision Institute N/A Ophthalmic research collaboration