Triple play in diabetes

How adding Amylin gives partners BMS, AstraZeneca leverage in diabetes

The addition of Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc.'s glucagon-like peptide 1 franchise will give partners Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and AstraZeneca plc three modern mechanisms in their commercial diabetes portfolio and five in the pipeline - more than any other players in the diabetes space.

Amylin's two GLP-1 products - once-weekly Bydureon exenatide and twice-daily Byetta exenatide - together are the second-ranked GLP-1s by sales behind Novo Nordisk A/S's Victoza liraglutide. But BMS and AZ believe they can boost sales of Bydureon by leveraging their much larger sales organizations, which have greater reach into primary care and emerging markets than Amylin would have been able to accomplish on its own.

The partners already sell Onglyza saxagliptin, a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor, and expect they will soon be adding Forxiga dapagliflozin, a sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitor. Forxiga received a positive opinion from EMA's CHMP in April to treat Type II diabetes.

According to both BMS and AZ, the potential for combinations addressing all three mechanisms, plus combinations with generics like metformin, should give the partners a basket of products that can compete on a global scale.

The deal

The marketing strategy is being made possible by the June 29 deal for BMS to acquire Amylin for about $7 billion, including $5.3 billion for Amylin stock and $1.7 billion to pay off the biotech's debt and a contractual obligation to former partner Eli Lilly and Co.

For Amylin shareholders, the $31 per share acquisition price is more than double the biotech's stock price of $15.39 on March 27, the day before media reports of a rumored bid from BMS (see "Iconic Patience," A17).

Following the acquisition, Amylin's diabetes portfolio will be folded into BMS's existing

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