Merck & Co among five pharmaceutical companies in the race for Medivation

Merck & Co Inc is one among five pharmaceutical companies that have shown interest in buying US cancer drug company Medivation Inc, Reuters yesterday reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Others who have put forward expressions of interest are Sanofi SA, Pfizer Inc, Celgene Corp and Gilead Sciences Inc, the report said.

Medivation will have further talks with potential buyers and ask them to table firm offers, the report added.

In April, Sanofi, based in Paris, tabled a $52.50-a-share offer after Medivation refused to engage in talks. The offer was a premium of over 50 per cent to the latter's two-month volume weighted average price prior to the takeover rumours. (See: Sanofi tables $9.3-bn bid for US biotech firm Medivation) Sanofi later raised its offer to $58 per share in cash and $3 per share in the form of a contingent value right relating to the sales performance of Medivation drug called Talazoparib, a drug under development for the treatment of breast cancer.

San Francisco-based Medivation rejected both offers saying that it is too low and hired banks to prepare a defence.

Medivation, known for its prostate cancer drug Xtandi, which is its only marketed drug. In addition, it has two additional oncology assets in clinical development.

Xtandi is also under evaluation for use in breast cancer patients. Xtandi was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for post-chemotherapy metastatic prostate cancer setting in 2012 and in 2014, and the FDA expanded Xtandi's label to include its use in pre-chemotherapy patients as well.

Since its launch, Xtandi has become the most prescribed prostate cancer drug in these indications, generating annual sales of more than $2 billion and is expected to generate almost $5.7 billion in sales over the next four years.

Medivation expects results of phase 2 trials for Xtandi in the coming 12 months, and if approved for breast cancer, it could treat more than 220,000 patients diagnosed with breast cancer every year in the US alone.

Xtandi would add to Merck's existing cancer portfolio, which includes Keytruda, that is expected to generate annual sales of more than $5 billion.