Amgen to buy Celgene psoriasis drug Otezla for US$13.4 billion

Amgen to buy Celgene psoriasis drug Otezla for US$13.4 billion

File photo of an Amgen sign at the company's office in South San Francisco
FILE PHOTO: An Amgen sign is seen at the company's office in South San Francisco, California in this Oct 21, 2013 . (Photo: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

REUTERS: Amgen will buy Celgene Corp's psoriasis drug Otezla for US$13.4 billion in cash, clearing the way for Bristol-Myers Squibb to go ahead with its US$74 billion deal for Celgene by the end of the year.

Amgen, which announced the deal on Monday, is paying a hefty price for the drug, analysts and investors said. Still, Otezla will deliver growth for the company right away and its shares rose around 2 percent in early trading.

Bristol-Myers and Celgene's shares were both up around 3 per cent.

Bristol-Myers said in June that it would sell Otezla to allay concerns raised by the Federal Trade Commission because of a competing treatment that it is developing. Analysts said at the time that they were expecting Otezla to sell for around US$8 billion to US$10 billion.

Bristol-Myers said in a statement that there was significant interest from multiple potential buyers from early on in the process.

Otezla brought in sales of US$1.61 billion last year. Amgen said it expected the drug's sales to grow at least in the low-double digits over the next five years.

Jeff Jonas, healthcare portfolio manager at Gabelli funds, said that a number of Amgen's current drugs face loss of patent protection and competition from biosimilar drugs, so the growth from Otezla would be welcome.

"This is an attractive product for them that fits more or less with their current portfolio," he said. "It's an approved product with a good safety profile, so there's not a lot of risk."

Still, he expressed some skepticism about Amgen's growth forecast for the drug, noting that new competitors, including Bristol-Myers' drug in development, are likely to eat into its market share.

Amgen said it expects the deal to produce tax benefits with a present cash value of US$2.2 billion, reducing the actual deal total to US$11.2 billion.

Bristol-Myers said most of the proceeds from the sale will go to pay down debt from the Celgene deal. It also increased a previously planned US$5 billion accelerated share buyback to US$7 billion.

Source: Reuters/nr