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West Coast Biotech Roundup: Auspex, Hyperion, NuVasive, & More

Xconomy San Diego — 

Xconomy national biotech editor Alex Lash is out wandering in the desert this week, so I’m stepping in as drover, and as biotech herds go, the one I’m rounding up today covers a lot of territory. Down San Diego way, Auspex Pharmaceuticals said “Okey Dokey” to a buyout offer worth close to $3.5 billion. Up in Northern California, Horizon Pharma used $1.1 billion to tie down Brisbane, CA-based Hyperion Therapeutics. And then there was Sarepta Therapeutics, which started out in Bothell, WA, and strayed all the way to Cambridge, MA, where the company parted ways with CEO Chris Garabedian. We’re burnin’ daylight, so might as well get to it.

—Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries agreed to buy San Diego-based Auspex Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ASPX) in a cash deal valued between $3.2 billion and $3.5 billion. The buyout caps a smart bet that Thomas McNerney Partners made in 2007, when the venture firm led a change in strategy at Auspex that focused on developing deuterium-based analogs of FDA-approved drugs for Huntington’s disease and other central nervous system disorders. In December, Auspex said its lead drug candidate clearly reduced the involuntary movements (chorea) associated with Huntington’s disease in a late-stage clinical trial.

—Meanwhile, San Diego’s Neurocrine Biosciences (NASDAQ: NBIX) said it entered into an exclusive agreement with Japan’s Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to commercialize its drug in certain Asian markets. The Neurocrine drug, designated NBI-98854, also treats the chorea associated with Huntington’s disease and tardive dyskinesia. Neurocrine will get $30 million upfront, as much as $85 million in milestone payments, and royalties on product sales if approved.

—In another big buyout deal this week, Ireland’s Horizon Pharma (NASDAQ: HZNP) said Monday it is acquiring Brisbane, CA-based Hyperion Therapeutics (NASDAQ: HPTX) for $1.1 billion, or $46 per share. Horizon gets two therapies Hyperion developed for a rare genetic disease, called urea cycle disorder, which leads to a buildup of ammonia in the blood.

—NuVasive (NASDAQ: NUVA), the San Diego maker of specialized products for minimally invasive spinal surgery, left much unsaid Wednesday when it disclosed that chairman and CEO Alex Lukianov had resigned over violations of company personnel and expense reimbursement policies. Lukianov’s exit raised questions in part because it was preceded in January by the unexpected departure of NuVasive President and COO Keith Valentine. A NuVasive spokeswoman confirmed that the company remains under investigation by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, which issued an administrative subpoena against the company almost two years ago. So far, however, no charges have been filed.

—Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, agreed to pay as much as $750 million to acquire Berkeley, CA-based Aduro Biotech, and its technology for triggering a sustained immune response against a variety of cancers. Novartis combined the deal with an … Next Page »

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