3 Biotech Takeover Targets That Could Get Bought Soon

No. 3 Regulatory decision approaching

Portola Pharmaceuticals shares got crushed after management reported mixed results for its factor Xa anticoagulant drug, betrixaban, in acute medically ill patients.

The phase 3 trial evaluated betrixaban head to head against former $3 billion per year Lovenox in an over 7,500 patient trial that included two cohorts. The first cohort included 62% of evaluatable patients that tested high for the likelihood of blood clots and the second cohort included everyone else. In order to evaluate the second cohort and the overall trial population, betrixaban had to show that it significantly outperformed Lovenox with a p-value of 0.05. Unfortunately, the p-value was 0.054. Management still ran the numbers on the second cohort and total patient population and in both of those groups the p-value was much lower and therefore, more significant.


However, because of the result in the first cohort there's no telling how the FDA will view this data and that puts in jeopardy the company's timeline to file the drug for approval this year and launch it next year.

Since betrixaban caused Portola shares to sell-off sharply, an acquirer like Bristol-Myers Squibb could step in and make a bid. Bristol-Myers Squibb already co-markets a $2 billion factor Xa anticoagulant, Eliquis, and they may like the idea of eliminating a competitor and capturing any potential FDA green light on betrixaban.

Bristol Myers Squibb could also be interested in buying Portola Pharmaceuticals to get its hands on its other drug, andexanet alfa, a factor Xa reversal agent.

Bristol-Myers Squibb was part of a slate of factor Xa drugmakers that helped Portola with andexanet alfa's development and if approved, andexanet alfa would be the only factor Xa antidote on the market. Given the market for anticoagulants is worth $10 billion and an antidote could expand factor Xa market share to include more patients at risk of bleeding events, owning it could make for a nice fit. Adding conviction to that idea is the fact that Bristol-Myers Squibb already co-licensed andexanet alfa in Japan, agreeing earlier this year to a deal that could be worth $90 million plus royalties to Portola. Since Portola estimates that as many as 100,000 people could benefit from andexanet alfa every year, a patient population of this size suggests this drug could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars in sales per year, globally.

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The article 3 Biotech Takeover Targets That Could Get Bought Soon originally appeared on Fool.com.

Todd Campbell owns shares of PORTOLA PHARMACEUTICALS INC COM USD0.001. Todd owns E.B. Capital Markets, LLC. E.B. Capital's clients may have positions in the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends BioMarin Pharmaceutical. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days . We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy .

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