Why You Should Keep an Eye on Shire, ViroPharma, and Novartis Today

Good morning, fellow Foolish investors! Let's dig into the top stories that could move health care stocks this morning.

Shire buys ViroPharma for $4.2 billion
Irish pharmaceutical company Shire just announced that it will buy ViroPharma for $4.2 billion in cash. The purchase price translates to $50 per share -- a 27% premium to ViroPharma's closing price last Friday.

Shire, a company which is best known for its ADHD treatments, is also a rising name in treatments for rare diseases. The company's treatment for hereditary angioedema (HAE), Firazyr, is one of four approved treatments for the condition. ViroPharma's Cinryze, which Shire will now own as well, is the most widely used of these treatments. HAE is a rare genetic condition that results in the uncontrollable swelling of the extremities, respiratory pathways, and gastrointestinal system.


Last quarter, sales of Shire's Firazyr climbed 107% year-over-year to $62.6 million, while sales of ViroPharma's Cinryze rose 23% to $94.6 million. Combined, the two treatments will tower over the other two approved treatments -- Dyax's Kalbitor and CSL Behring's Berinert -- and become the dominate HAE treatment in the market.

Cinryze is also the only treatment that can be taken as a preventative measure -- the other three treatments are only administered in the event of an acute attack. Cinryze is also notably one of the most expensive drugs in the world, costing $350,000 per patient per year, while Firazyr costs $6,180 per dose.

Shire estimates that the deal will generate cost synergies of $150 million by 2015, and become earnings accretive immediately. Combined with Shire's other rare disease treatments, which include Gaucher disease and Hunter syndrome, the company expects the ViroPharma acquisition to solidify a rare disease annual revenue base of $2 billion -- which could represent 40% of its total revenue by 2014.

The deal is expected to close by the end of this year or in early 2014. Shire also announced that it intends to terminate its current share buyback program as a result of the acquisition.

Looking forward, things should look bright for Shire, and the bull case for the company -- which I discussed in a recent article -- looks brighter than ever with another expensive, high-growth treatment added to its portfolio.

Novartis inks deals with Grifols and Immunogen
Another major deal announced this morning was Novartis' divestment of its blood transfusion unit to Spanish pharmaceutical company Grifols for $1.7 billion. The deal, which is intended to streamline Novartis' focus on its higher growth businesses, is expected to close in the first half of 2014.

Novartis originally acquired the blood transfusion diagnostics unit in 2006 from its acquisition of Chiron, and has since become part of Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics.

The unit generated $565 million in revenue during fiscal 2012, accounting for less than 1% of Novartis' top line -- giving Novartis gets a nice injection of cash that it can use toward research & development in other higher growth segments, such as generics and consumer health. However, investors should note that the deal does not include Novartis' companion diagnostics unit or the Genoptix businesses, which are both tightly intertwined with its pharmaceuticals pipeline.

The deal is also a solid strategic fit for Grifols, which is the world's third-largest producer of plasma-based therapies, and could help boost its top line growth. Last quarter, Grifols' adjusted earnings rose 31.9% year-over-year, but its revenue only dipped 0.4%. 

In addition to the deal with Grifols, Novartis also struck a deal with ImmunoGen , the maker of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), to license its ADC technology to develop a new cancer treatment. This is the third licensing agreement between Novartis and ImmunoGen, which also holds similar licensing deals with Eli Lilly and Amgen.

ADCs are often nicknamed "cancer smart bombs", due to the ability to locate cancer cells, inject them with toxins, and kill them without harming healthy cells -- making them a viable alternative to chemotherapy.

The deal could possibly help ImmunoGen bounce back after a steep 18% plunge last week after the company halted a phase 2 study of an experiment small-cell lung cancer drug following the death of a patient.

Another big mover to keep your eye on
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The article Why You Should Keep an Eye on Shire, ViroPharma, and Novartis Today originally appeared on Fool.com.

Leo Sun has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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