Gilead Wagers $600M on Calistoga, Dendreon Scopes New Digs, Physio to Spin Off, & More Seattle-Area Life Sciences News
This week’s news flow was dominated by a pretty rare event—a lucrative acquisition of a Seattle-based, venture-backed biotech company.
—Calistoga Pharmaceuticals hit the jackpot this week, as it agreed to be acquired by Foster City, CA-based Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ: GILD) for as much as $600 million if certain milestones are reached. The deal is interesting not just locally, but nationally as well, because it represents Gilead’s first serious foray into the cancer drug business. Calistoga CEO Carol Gallagher says she’s hopeful that most of the company’s 23 employees will be retained at Gilead’s new research center along Lake Union. I also had a follow-up conversation with Gilead’s chief scientist, Norbert Bischofberger, about why Gilead is making the move into cancer and inflammatory diseases now.
—Physio-Control, the storied Redmond, WA-based maker of heart defibrillators, could once again become an independent company, through a spinoff being proposed by its parent, Minneapolis, MN-based Medtronic (NYSE: MDT). Physio-Control had about 1,100 employees as of a year ago, with about three-fourths of them in Redmond.
—Bruce Montgomery, the prominent Seattle biotech entrepreneur, has pulled in the first $1 million of financing for a new company he’s working on called Cardeas Pharma. Montgomery has teamed up with Melissa Yaeger, a former colleague at Seattle-based Corus Pharma and Gilead Sciences. No word yet on what Cardeas is doing, but I’m checking.
—Seattle’s best-known biotech company, Dendreon (NASDAQ: DNDN), is apparently scoping out some downtown office space with potential to wow big East Coast portfolio managers coming through town. Dendreon is reportedly in talks to take office space in the Russell Investments Center with a towering view over downtown, Elliott Bay, and the Olympics. No final decision has been made, a company spokeswoman told The Seattle Times.
—Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) has joined forces with Watertown, MA Athenahealth (NASDAQ: ATHN) to make their electronic medical record offerings more compatible and easier for healthcare professionals to use.
—We also had two biotech-themed guest editorials this week. Chris Rivera, the president of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association, offered his take on how the local innovation community can play a key role in sparking a broader economic recovery. And David Miller, president of Seattle-based Biotech Stock Research, talked about how health insurance costs are becoming a much more serious impediment to new company creation than ever before.