月別アーカイブ: 2015年3月

UnitedHealth to buy pharmacy benefit firm Catamaran for $12.8 billion

By Sneha Banerjee

(Reuters) – Health insurer UnitedHealth Group agreed to buy Catamaran Corp in a deal worth about $12.8 billion to boost its pharmacy benefit business as it competes with bigger rivals such as Express Scripts Holdings Co.

Pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) administer drug benefits for employers and health plans and run large mail order pharmacies, helping them get better prices from drugmakers.

As employers look to cut prescription costs on expensive drugs, the deal with Catamaran will give UnitedHealth’s pharmacy benefits unit, OptumRx, the scale to negotiate favorable prices in the lucrative PBM market.

Catamaran was formed after SXC Health Solutions and PBM Catalyst Health Solutions merged in 2012.

UnitedHealth’s offer of $61.50 per share represents a premium of 27 percent to Catamaran’s Friday close on the Nasdaq.

Catamaran’s stock was trading at $60.01 premarket on Monday, while UnitedHealth was up nearly 4 percent.

The deal “makes sense to us, but admittedly came much earlier than we expected,” Jefferies analyst Brian Tanquilut said in a research note.

“We had always viewed Catamaran as a compelling asset for companies looking for scale in the PBM sector such as Optum or Walgreens but expected Catamaran to grow the business much further before pursuing a sale.”

He added that the offer seemed adequate and he did not expect competing bids at this point.

UnitedHealth said it expects to fill more than one billion prescriptions after the deal.

The deal value is based on Illinois-based Catamaran’s total diluted shares outstanding as of Dec. 31.

The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2015 and add about 30 cents per share to UnitedHealth’s profit in 2016, the companies said.

After the deal closes, Catamaran Chief Executive Mark Thierer will serve as CEO of OptumRx. Timothy Wicks, the current CEO of OptumRx, will become president.

(Editing by Savio D’Souza and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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UnitedHealth to buy pharmacy benefits manager Catamaran

The nation’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth, will muscle up in its fight against rising specialty drug costs by spending more than $12 billion to buy pharmacy benefits manager Catamaran Corp.

Pharmacy benefits managers, or PBMs, help negotiate the prices that customers pay for prescription drugs. They are seen as a key component in the push to contain rising specialty drug costs, an expense that could overwhelm parts of the health care system, especially the federal-state Medicaid program, insurers and other bill payers have warned.

Specialty drugs are complex medicines often represent treatment breakthroughs but come with much higher prices than older drugs. Experts say specialty drugs have always been pricey but confined to relatively small patient populations. That’s changing, due in part to some relatively new hepatitis C treatments that could be used by millions of patients.

UnitedHealth and Catamaran said Monday that their deal will combine businesses that have “distinctive, rapidly growing specialty pharmacy services” for a segment of the market that is expected to quadruple from an estimated $100 billion in revenues last year to $400 billion by 2020.

UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s OptumRx PBM business fills about 600 million prescriptions annually. Catamaran expects to fill 400 million this year.

The nation’s largest PBM, Express Scripts Holding Co., filled about 1.3 billion prescriptions last year.

Express Scripts executives have spoken out frequently about soaring costs from specialty drugs, and the St. Louis company threw its weight into this fight late last year by restricting coverage. It said in December it will no longer cover Sovaldi and Harvoni — two Gilead Sciences drugs that cost more than $80,000 each for a full course of treatment — or Johnson & Johnson’s Olysio except under limited circumstances.

Instead, it made AbbVie Inc.’s Viekira Pak the preferred treatment for its patients.

PBMs can make these restrictions in part because of the leverage they get from the millions of customers they represent. Acquisitions have been a key means of growth in the sector for years.

In 2012, Express Scripts became the nation’s largest PBM by completing a $29.1 billion acquisition of rival Medco Health Solutions. That same year, Catamaran changed its name from SXC Health Solutions after spending more than $4 billion to buy another PBM, Catalyst Health.

UnitedHealth said Monday that, for the latest deal, it will spend $61.50 in cash on each share of Catamaran. That’s a 27 percent premium to Catamaran’s closing price Friday.

Catamaran, based in Schaumburg, Illinois, had about 207.5 million shares outstanding at the end of January, which puts the deal price at roughly $12.76 billion.

The acquisition is expected to close during the fourth quarter.

Shares of Catamaran rose 24 percent, or $11.68, to $60 more than an hour before markets opened Monday. UnitedHealth, based in Minneapolis, also saw its shares climb 3.8 percent, or $4.49, to $122.50.

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BioBlast Pharma Announces Positive in vivo Preclinical Proof-of-Concept Results of Its Cabaletta Platform in …

TEL AVIV, Israel, March 30, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — BioBlast Pharma Ltd. (ORPN), a clinical-stage, orphan disease-focused biotechnology company announced today positive in vivo proof-of-concept results for Cabaletta for Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3 (also known as SCA3 or Machado Joseph disease). Results were presented at the International Ataxia Research Conference held in Windsor UK, March 25-28, 2015.”

Cabaletta was tested in two different animal models of the disease:

  1. In a transfected mouse model, Cabaletta demonstrated efficacy in reducing the pathological cellular aggregates that are the root cause of the extensive nerve damage characteristic of SCA3. In a series of experiments, Cabaletta reduced the protein aggregations that are potentially toxic to neural cells, and reduced the biomarkers indicative of ubiquitin-imminent cell death. Immunohistochemistry studies corroborated this effect by demonstrating prevention of Darpp-32 loss in treated animal cells, a sensitive biomarker of neural damage.
  2. In a transgenic mouse model, treatment with Cabaletta was effective in preventing and preserving neural functions in multiple tests including the Rotarod and swimming tests.

Colin Foster, BioBlast’s President and CEO commented: “Our in vivo proof-of-concept studies demonstrate Cabaletta’s efficacy in reducing Ataxin3 aggregates, reducing neural markers for neural damage and preventing typical phenotypic deterioration in animal models. As a whole, this is powerful support for our ongoing SCA3 Phase 2 clinical trial program underway in Israel. We anticipate expanding the number of SCA3 clinical study centers later this year.

“There are approximately two dozen diseases that Cabaletta may address, given a common disease-causing mechanism related to intracellular and intranuclear protein aggregation. With Cabaletta, we have previously reported on our ongoing oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) Phase 2/3 multicenter clinical trial and our preclinical work in spino bulbar muscular atrophy. Today, given the SCA3 proof-of-concept results, we share the fervent hopes of the many SCA3 patients waiting anxiously for a treatment for this devastating disease.”

About Cabaletta

Cabaletta is BioBlast’s proprietary intravenous (IV) solution of trehalose, a disaccharide, known for its capabilities in stabilizing intracellular and intranuclear proteins and enhancing autophagy.

About Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 3 (SCA3 or Machado Joseph Disease)

SCA3, also known as Machado Joseph disease, is the most common among the cerebellar ataxias, which are a group of genetic diseases that are characterized by gait and movement disorders memory deficits, spasticity, difficulty with speech and swallowing, weakness in arms and other muscular anomalies. Symptoms can begin in early adolescence and get worse over time. Eventually SCA3 leads to paralysis and severe disability. The disease typically appears in the third or fourth decades of life and is associated with early death, on average within 15-20 years of diagnosis. There is currently no approved treatment for the disease.

About BioBlast

BioBlast Pharma is a clinical-stage biotechnology company committed to developing clinically meaningful therapies for patients with rare and ultra-rare genetic diseases. The company has a diverse portfolio of product candidates with the potential to address unmet medical needs for incurable genetic orphan diseases.

The BioBlast platforms are based on deep understanding of the disease-causing biological processes, and potentially offer solutions for several diseases that share the same biological pathology.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the “safe harbor” provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and other Federal securities laws. For example, we are using forward looking statements when we discuss making further progress toward providing a therapy to help SCA3 patients, that our platforms potentially offer solutions for several diseases that share the same biological pathology, including approximately two dozen diseases in the case of our Cabaletta product candidate, or when we discuss expanding the number of SCA3 clinical studies and timing of such expansion. In addition, historic results of scientific research and clinical and preclinical trials do not guarantee that the conclusions of future research or trials would not suggest different conclusions or that historic results would not be interpreted differently in light of additional research and clinical and preclinical trials results. Because such statements deal with future events and are based on BioBlast Pharma Ltd.’s current expectations, they are subject to various risks and uncertainties and actual results, performance or achievements of Bio Blast Pharma could differ materially from those described in or implied by the statements in this press release, including those discussed under the heading “Risk Factors” in BioBlast Pharma’s prospectus dated July 30, 2014 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and in any subsequent filings with the SEC. Except as otherwise required by law, BioBlast Pharma disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof, whether as a result of new information, future events or circumstances or otherwise.

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