Novartis bolts on hematology/inflammation company Selexys

Potential $665M acquisition of Selexys follows receipt of results from SUSTAIN study in sickle cell disease

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BASEL, Switzerland—Consistent both with Novartis CEO Joe Jiminez’s stated interest in bolt-on acquisitions and the company’s interest in expanding its hematology presence and portfolio, Novartis announced Nov. 21 that it had acquired Selexys Pharmaceuticals Corp., a company specializing in development of therapeutics in certain hematologic and inflammatory disorders.
More specifically, Novartis exercised its right to acquire Selexys following receipt of results of the SUSTAIN study, a Phase 2 trial evaluating the use of SelG1, an anti-P-selectin antibody, in the reduction of vaso-occlusive pain crises in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). Results from the study will be presented during the Plenary Scientific Session at the 58th American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting on Dec. 4 in San Diego.
Novartis obtained the exclusive right to acquire Selexys and SelG1 in 2012. Prior to the acquisition, Selexys was a privately held biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla. Terms of the deal could total as much as $665 million in upfront, acquisition and milestone payments.
“Sickle cell disease affects millions of people around the world and there are limited therapies available for treatment of vaso-occlusive pain crises, a very common complication of the disease,” said Bruno Strigini, CEO of Novartis Oncology. “With this acquisition, Novartis is able to leverage its leadership in hematology research to advance development of a potential new treatment option for patients living with this debilitating condition.”
SCD is a hereditary blood disorder characterized by sickle-shaped red blood cells that is a life-long disease, coming in many forms that can range in clinical severity from asymptomatic to life-threatening.
“We would like to extend our gratitude to all of the dedicated patients, physicians and nurses who participated in the SUSTAIN study of SelG1 in sickle cell disease,” said Dr. Scott Rollins, former Ppresident and CEO of Selexys in the formal announcement of the acquisition. “Further, the acquisition of Selexys by Novartis represents an important step in the continued development of SelG1, a novel, potential first-in-class therapy for patients with this underserved life-threatening disease.”
Whatever promising results from the SUSTAIN study spurred this move by Novartis, the company still has challenges in the marketplace and on the stock trading floors. As analyst Michael Nawrath  of Zuercher Kantonalbank wrote in a note to investors: “It’s definitely an improvement of the hematology pipeline within the oncology business, but it’s not exactly a bargain and it won’t have any influence on the share price. Novartis’ problems—revenue losses from patent-expired Gleevec, lacking growth at Alcon and the weak sales begin for Entresto—easily overshadow this acquisition.”

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