Are AbbVie and J&J already fighting to acquire Galapagos’ pipeline?

galapagos biotech

Ten years ago, Galapagos completed its initial public offering with a dual listing in Amsterdam and Brussels. Since then, Galapagos has grown, from 70 to more than 400 employees and from €70M to around €1.2Bn in market capitalization. Galapagos recently reported positive results with its JAK1 inhibitor in nearly 900 rheumatoid arthritis patients worldwide, triggering the interest of two giants for its pipeline.

Galapagos’ pipeline includes three Phase II programs, two Phase I trials, five pre-clinical studies, and 25 discovery small-molecule and antibody programs in cystic fibrosis, inflammation, and other indications. Regarding the field of inflammation, AbbVie and Galapagos signed a collaboration agreement for the development and commercialization of filgotinib. Filgotinib is an orally-available, selective inhibitor of JAK1 (Janus kinase inhibitor) for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and potentially other inflammatory diseases. Drugs that inhibit the activity of these Janus kinases, block cytokine signaling and, ultimately, inflammation. Filgotinib is currently in Phase IIb in rheumatoid arthritis and in Phase II in Crohn’s disease. Galapagos reported good activity and a favorable safety profile after monitoring both studies for 12 weeks. AbbVie and Galapagos also signed a collaboration agreement for cystic fibrosis (also known as mucoviscidosis), with drugs currently in Phase I and at a pre-clinical stage.

A few weeks ago, Galapagos announced its upcoming introduction of €134.3M on the US stock market. But now, this IPO has been raised at a €203M ($230 million) value, after discovering the good results of the clinical trials. However, the manifest appetite of Big Pharma companies for Galapagos’ portfolio needs be underlined.

What happened exactly? On 7th May 2015, Johnson & Johnson indicated its interest in purchasing €22.4M of ordinary shares in the global offering. Last Thursday, AbbVie placed a provisional order worth €26.9M in shares. AbbVie also detains a €179M option to invest into Galapagos’ rheumatoid arthritis program. J&J already holds 7.6% of Galapagos. Both giants are facing the loss of patent protection on rheumatoid arthritis drugs. You’re also seing it coming right? They both have a great interest in Galapagos and both have assets already involved. Is there a takeover in preparation? The battle for Galapagos’ pipeline is just starting and one can only bet that we’ll be hearing about it very soon. Of course Galapagos’ share prices in Europe reached new records after the trial results and, chances are, they won’t stop going up. The Nasdaq’s IPO seems to be on a clear way already…

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