Amgen emerges as potential Cytokinetics suitor as Novartis pulls away: reports


Amgen emerges as potential Cytokinetics suitor as Novartis pulls away: reports

Published: Jan 12, 2024

By Tristan Manalac


Novartis is reportedly backing off of its rumored potential acquisition of California–based cardiovascular disease specialist Cytokinetics, according to a Thursday report from The Wall Street Journal, citing a source familiar with the matter.

On Monday, the WSJ reported that the Swiss drugmaker was in “advanced talks” to buy Cytokinetics. According to the Journal’s sources, the agreement could have been inked “as soon as this week” amid the 42nd annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, which is widely recognized in the biopharma industry as a hub of dealmaking activity.

At the time, however, there was no potential purchase price.

Reuters article earlier this week also identified AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson as potential suitors of Cytokinetics, however noting that they were likely to be outdone by Novartis.

On Thursday, Amgen emerged as another potential suitor, according to Seeking Alpha. Cytokinetics is reportedly holding out for $130 to $145 a share, per Betaville, which cited sources familiar with the matter. Amgen has history with Cytokinetics. The larger biopharma terminated a development and collaboration agreement for small molecule cardiac myosin activator omecamtiv mecarbil in 2020.

In response to reports Novartis backing away from the potential deal, Cytokinetics’ shares crashed by as much as 28% on Thursday, as per Seeking Alpha.

Cytokinetics is advancing a pipeline of therapies that “may improve the healthspan of people living with cardiovascular and neuromuscular diseases of impaired muscle function,” according to its website. Its main target indications are heart failure, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

One of its most mature programs is aficamten, an investigational small molecule inhibitor of cardiac myosin that is currently being evaluated for HCM. In December 2023, Cytokinetics reported positive data for aficamten in the pivotal Phase III SEQUIOA-HCM study, which demonstrated that the candidate significantly improved exercise capacity, leading to better peak oxygen uptake versus placebo.

Cytokinetics is running two other Phase III studies to assess aficamten: ACACIA-HCM, which kicked off in September 2023, and MAPLE-HCM, which launched in June 2023.

Cytokinetics had proposed omecamtiv mecarbil for the treatment of heart failure with reduced ejection fraction, but in March 2023, the FDA rejected the application, citing a lack of evidence supporting the drug’s clinical benefit.

Novartis’ alleged decision to forego the Cytokinetics acquisition is in contrast to its otherwise busy dealmaking spree in recent days. On Monday, the pharma paid $250 million upfront to acquire Dutch biotech Calypso and signed two RNAi-focused research contracts with Chinese company Shanghai Argo Biopharmaceutical.

A day earlier, Novartis inked an AI partnership with Alphabet’s Isomorphic Labs, paying $37.5 million upfront to collaborate on three undisclosed targets.

Source: BioSpace