The making of a cancer-killing giant

Bristol-Myers Squibb has started off the 2019 season of M&A with a huge proposal: buying the biotech Celgene in a $74B deal. If completed, it would be the largest pharma acquisition to date, blowing the previous-record holder—Takeda’s pending Shire acquisition for $62B—out of the water. Both companies are oncology giants, specifically in immunology and blood cancers, but BMS will be acquiring a decent amount of risk with the purchase. Celgene’s market cap has gone down $70B in the past 14 months partly due to poor financial forecasts for when the company’s top drug Revlimid loses patent protection. BMS likely hopes to make that up with six possible product launches in the next few years. Okay, enough numbers. To round out this New Jersey-focused blurb, here’s some New Jersey would-you-rathers.

And the winner is…

All of us. Thanks to James Allison and Tasuku Honjo, winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Medicine, we now have a much better understanding of cancer, and how to treat it. Allison and Honjo characterized two very important and potent pathways – called “immune checkpoints” – that can shut down the immune response (CTLA-4 and PD-1). Anyone heard of “monoclonal antibodies?” Of course you have, and well, that’s thanks to these two smart people. For a really good article on their discovery and what it has led to go here. Dr. Allison is currently working at MD Anderson and you can see a short video of him here. MD Anderson has a very nice 3-minute video on “What is immunotherapy” that is worth a watch. Everyone together now, say “thanks guys”