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Controversial Biotech Sarepta Keeps Up Unlikely Win Streak With $1.15 Billion Roche Deal

December 23, 2019, 10:32 PM UTC

Sarepta Therapeutics continues to rack up wins—this time, with Swiss drug giant Roche spending $1.15 billion to license Sarepta’s gene therapy for treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Roche’s Sarepta agreement, which includes $750 million in upfront cash and another $400 million equity stake in the smaller biotech. The deal is for Sarepta’s experimental gene therapy for muscular dystrophy, a devastating muscle-wasting disorder, called SRP-9001. The arrangement gives Roche access to global licensing rights, except for in the U.S.

On Monday, Sarepta shares rose nearly 7.5% on the news.

This isn’t the first time Sarepta has pulled off an unlikely win in the face of scientific scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration. The situation was fairly similar with the approval of Exondys 51 a different muscular dystrophy drug that the FDA also green lit (though back in 2016) despite opposition from its own scientific advisors. The FDA isn’t required to heed that committee’s advice, but it usually does.

Pressure from the patient advocacy community was likely a big factor in those two other non-gene-therapy drugs’ approvals. It appears bigger biopharma players have taken notice of Sarepta’s win streak.

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