Pfizer’s Bid For Wyeth Sends Ripples Through Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Seattle Biotechs

1/27/09Follow @xconomy

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from its IPO price of $13 in October 2006 to $1.54 at yesterday’s close. The company said it had $65.1 million in cash and investments at the end of September, yet investors are saying it’s worth much less than that, giving it a market valuation of just $27.5 million at yesterday’s close.

Trubion’s lead drug, TRU-015, is designed to hit the same target as Genentech and Biogen Idec’s rituximab (Rituxan) , although with a smaller molecule that is supposed to be better at penetrating deep into tissues like bone marrow and lymph nodes where it can stop overactive immune system B-cells.

The results of a 276-patient, placebo-controlled trial, presented at a medical meeting in November 2007, showed the drug was about as good as Rituxan at reducing the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Trubion has plans to announce data from a pair of Phase II trials in 2009, according to a posting on its website.

The takeover news also adds a dose of uncertainty for other small biotechs that are looking to shop their programs around to the highest-bidding partner, says David Schubert, president of Accelerator, the Seattle-based biotech startup incubator. Essentially, one of the biggest pharma acquirers, Pfizer, will be preoccupied for months, making it unlikely to bid on other deals, he says.

“When things like this go down, it means the world continues to get smaller in terms of partnership opportunites,” Schubert says. “You’d like to be able to play people off against other bidders.”

The proposed Pfizer-Wyeth deal has already hurt one biotech, Netherlands-based Crucell. That biotech company said yesterday that Wyeth has pulled out of talks to acquire the company for a reported $1.35 billion.

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