Ipsen Agrees to Hire 100 Merrimack Employees Under $575 Million Cancer Deal
February 15, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Approximately 100 employees of Merrimack Pharmaceuticals (MACK) will become staff of Paris-based Ipsen (IPN.PA) as part of a deal for the Massachusetts-based company’s pancreatic cancer drug, the Boston Business Journal reported.
That’s good news for those Merrimack employees, as earlier this month the company announced in January that it was slashing about 80 percent of its employees as part of a strategic review of its business strategy. That 80 percent layoff announcement, which is expected to cut employment from about 400 to 80 employees, came about three months after Merrimack cut 22 percent of its staff following a corporate restructuring the company underwent after former Chief Executive Officer Robert Mulroy resigned.

In January, Ipsen and Merrimack struck a deal for Onivyde, a drug used for the treatment of patients with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas after disease progression following gemcitabine-based therapy, in combination with fluorouracil and leucovorin. Initial terms of the agreement revealed that Ipsen will gain exclusive commercialization rights for the current and potential future Onivyde indications in the United States. Additionally, the transaction includes Merrimack’s commercial and manufacturing infrastructure, and generic doxorubicin HCl liposome injection, which is used for ovarian cancer, IDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma and multiple myeloma. The deal included a $575 million payment upfront, but with milestones could become worth more than $1 billion.

Onivyde was approved in October 2015. In January, Merrimack said it intended to use the $575 million to develop its “streamlined oncology pipeline,” which includes the development of three drugs, MM-121, MM-141 and MM-310. Merrimack said the portion of the funds devoted to the pipeline will keep research going through the second half of 2019. Additionally, the company will use some of the funds to pay off debt. About $200 million will be returned to stockholders through a special cash dividend.

The deal with Merrimack is not the only acquisition Ipsen has made. On Feb. 13, the company spent $88 million to acquire five over-the-counter drugs from Sanofi (SNY). The deal includes Prontalgine, an analgesic for the treatment of moderate to severe pain; Buscopan, an antispasmodic; Suppositoria Glycerini, a laxative; and Mucothiol and Mucodyne, expectorants for cough and flu. The OTC brands are only available in Europe.

On Jan. 31, Ipsen acquired an equity stake in Akkadeas Pharma, a privately-held consumer healthcare company based in Italy that has a gastrointestinal-focused portfolio. Ipsen has the option to take full control of the company in the future.


Source: BioSpace