Roche buys Ignyta for US$1.7bn

James Marshall
December 23, 2017

Ignyta Inc (NASDAQ:RXDX) shares are firing up 72% like a cannon through the market after the drug maker gave its investors a nice "pre-holiday gift:" Swiss healthcare giant Roche is primed to takeover the smaller domestic cancer drug maker in an all-cash deal for $1.7 billion, or $27 per share.

Ignyta's lead molecule, entrectinib, is now in Phase 2 clinical trials targeting rare mutations in non small cell lung cancer and solid tumors.

Interim data from that study - reported at the European Society of Medical Oncology (ESMO) conference in September - showed that entrectinib achieved a response rate of around 70% in patients with ROS1-positive NSCLC, with a median duration of response of 28.6 months and median progression free survival (PFS) of 29.6 months.

With many of its most popular treatments reaching the end of their patent protection lifecycle, Roche is pushing forward with acquisition plans to rebuild its portfolio of treatments. The merger has been fully approved by the boards of both companies.

Entrectinib isn't the only drug in Ignyta's pipeline however.

Early previous year, Ignyta also dumped three potential cancer treatments, including two acquired from struggling generics giant Teva Pharmaceutical, in an effort to trim its pipeline and invest in projects management believes have the best shot at success. The biotech only got off its IPO three years ago, worth just $48 million.

Commenting on the transaction, Roche chief executive Daniel O'Day (left) said: "Cancer is a highly complex disease and many patients suffer from mutations which are hard to detect and treat".

Ignyta is to continue its operations in San Diego, California.

Ignyta's entrectinib is being tested in patient trials that, if successful, could be the basis for applications with regulators to sell the drug.

The acquisition comes at a time when Roche's blockbuster drug for breast cancer, Herceptin, is facing increased competition from the biosimilar Ogivri from Mylan and other rivals, The Wall Street Journal observed.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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