By Sy Mukherjee
January 8, 2019

Happy Tuesday, readers.

The JPMorgan Healthcare Conference brings with it partnerships promised and born. Before the conference even began this week in San Francisco, drug giant Bristol-Myers Squibb announced a blockbuster proposed deal to acquire Celgene for $74 billion – a potential merger that some analysts speculated was meant to shore up weak points for both companies and create a substantially larger player in the cancer drug space.

Just a few weeks before, British pharma mainstay GlaxoSmithKline (not exactly known for keeping up with rivals like Merck and Bristol-Myers in the new generation of cancer immunotherapy drugs) agreed to buy the biotech Tesaro for $5.1 billion.

Then, on JPM Monday, Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly announced that it would buy the smaller cancer-focused biotech Loxo Oncology for $8 billion. As Lilly CEO David Ricks explicitly pointed out, this was an intentional move geared toward expanding the company’s presence in oncology. It helps that Loxo won an FDA approval for a first-of-its-kind cancer drug in November.

I chatted with biotech investor and cancer immunotherapy guru Brad Loncar about the state of biopharma M&A yesterday, and while he’d caution overstating the trend, he pointed out that these end-of-2018 and early-2019 deals may signify the underlying hunger for more robust biopharma M&A this year.

One important question is whether or not oncology is the only space that will see a flurry of big-name deals – and, if not, which others may follow.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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