East Coast Life Sciences Roundup: Ariad, Pfizer, Cubist, More

1/25/13Follow @cathyarnst

It was good news all around this week in life sciences on the East Coast, with a strong earnings report for one company, a positive decision on a drug for two others, and a White Knight emerging for a third. And at Cambridge’s Broad Institute, information technology and biology came together in a way.

ARIAD Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ARIA) announced this week a public offering of 15,307,000 shares, priced at $19.60 a share, expected to close on January 29. The Cambridge, MA-based biotech said it plans to use the $300 million in proceeds to support commercialization of ponatinib (Iclusig), its chronic myeloid leukemia drug approved by the FDA in December.

Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY), both headquartered in New York, got another vote of confidence on Tuesday for their jointly developed blood thinner apixaban (Eliquis), which won FDA approval last month. On Wednesday, Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), the national health costs watchdog, recommended that the potential blockbuster be made available under Britain’s National Health Service for preventing strokes in people with atrial fibrillation. An estimated 1.2 million people in Britain suffer from this type of irregular heartbeat.

Progenics Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: PGNX), in Tarrytown, NY, continued its 16-month old effort to remake itself as strictly a cancer drug company with the announcement on Wednesday that it will acquire Cambridge, MA-based Molecular Insight Pharmaceuticals in a stock swap. Molecular filed for Chapter 11 two years ago and had run out of money to continue clinical trials of its cancer drugs.

—-There was apparently a big demand for antibiotics last year. On Wednesday Lexington, MA-based antibiotics maker Cubist Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: CBST) announced that its fourth quarter earnings beat the consensus estimate of Wall Street analysts of 48 cents a share by three cents, coming in at 51 cents, or $37.8 million, versus 11 cents, or $6.8 million, in the same period a year ago. Cantor Fitzgerald upgraded its rating on Cubist from “sell” to “hold.”

—On Tuesday, Harvard and MIT’s renowned Broad Institute, famous for its genomics research, named an equally prestigious new chairman of the board—Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM (NYSE: IBM). Gerstner helmed IBM from 1993 to 2002 and is widely acknowledged for reinventing the mammoth computer company and its culture. Gerstner joined the Broad’s board in 2010.

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