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Bristol Myers to buy heart drug-maker for $13 billion

Riley Griffin

Drug giant Bristol Myers Squibb Co. will buy MyoKardia Inc. for $13.1 billion in cash in a deal to expand its offering of heart therapies.

Bristol Myers, which clinched the largest pharmaceutical deal in history just last year, will pay $225 a share for MyoKardia, according to a statement Monday from the companies, a premium of 61% over the biotech stock’s Friday closing price.

With the purchase, Bristol Myers gets access to MyoKardia’s lead product mavacamten, an experimental drug that treats obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in which the heart muscle becomes abnormally thick. Expanding Bristol Myers’s lineup of heart drugs would help the maker of Opdivo for cancer diversify beyond oncology, an area where much of the industry has focused in recent years.

Drug giant Bristol Myers Squibb Co. will buy MyoKardia Inc. for $13.1 billion in cash in a deal to expand its offering of heart therapies.

“We’ve been thinking about other ways we can strengthen the company, and in particular, the other side of the decade,” said Chief Executive Officer Giovanni Caforio in an interview. “This is a disease with no available treatment, and the value is very significant.”

“It can really be a multi-billion dollar asset,” he said.

MyoKardia’s shares rose as much as 59% in premarket U.S. trading. Bristol Myers’s shares fell 0.4%.

Growth Prospects

Nearly a year ago, Bristol Myers closed its $74 billion takeover of Celgene Corp., moving it up the ranks of companies leading the charge in an increasingly competitive field for cancer therapies. But investors have remained concerned that the new combined company will have few growth prospects in the latter of half of the decade. Revlimid, the drug obtained in the deal, is expected to lose U.S. patent exclusivity in 2027.

An application for approval of mavacamten is expected to be submitted in the first quarter of next year, according to the statement. Executives said on a call that it’s too early to discuss the drug’s potential price

The MyoKardia purchase “surprised us, given our assumption that the company would first take its time to pay down debt from its Celgene acquisition,” Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Sam Fazeli said in a note to investors. “The fit is clear, though, as Bristol can slot Myokardia’s mavacamten for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy right next to its Eliquis,” another heart drug.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is a chronic condition in which the thickening of the heart wall makes it harder for the organ to pump blood. It’s estimated to affect about one in 500 people, according to the statement.

Bristol Myers plans to explore other uses for the drug and to develop additional experimental compounds from MyoKardia.

The New York-based pharmaceutical company said it plans to finance the acquisition with a combination of cash and debt.

“Contrary to some of the other deals that may be done, this phase 3 program has been completed,” Caforio said. “This is not an acquisition that will put significant strain on our R&D spend.”