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$4.3 Billion Deal Announced By Roche To Acquire Gene Therapy Specialist Spark

$4.3 Billion Deal Announced By Roche To Acquire Gene Therapy Specialist Spark
With the aim of building its portfolio for haemophilia treatment and to keep up with rivals in gene therapy, Spark Therapeutics was announced to be bought by the Swiss drug maker Roche Holding in a deal that would be worth $4.3 billion.
The Swiss company said in a statement that the U.S.-based Spark would be given $114.50 per share by Roche which would be a premium of about 122 percent to the share price of Spark's at close of trade on February 22.
The gene therapy space had been under watch by Roche for quite some time, according to the company’s CEO, Severin Schwan, and added that the he believed that the sector had a "transformational potential for patients."
Schwan tried to justify the high premium that Riche has agreed to pay for Sparks be claiming that the acquired company would be put up and kept as a fully integrated organization that would have a large product line.
"Spark have built a company with world leading expertise and know-how across the entire value chain from R&D and manufacturing, right through to commercialization," he said.
SPK-8011, a drug for hemophilia A, which is anticipated to start its Phase 3 trials in 2019, is one of the most prospect full drug in the pipeline of Spark. The US company is also is in the process of developing a therapy for hemophilia B and cionducting tests for a cure for Pompe disease. Other drugs under research include those that could be used against blindness-causing choroideremia and Huntington's disease.
Hemlibra, a medicinal treatment to combat hemophilia A - a medicine that helps in the stopping of bleeding in patients who would have developed life-threatening genetic disorder which results in their blood not getting clotted and hence run the risk of death from any cut or accident, is already being sold by Roche.
Roche would continue to offer Hemlibra even after it acquires Spark and consequently its hemophilia drugs, Schwan said. He added that the approaches to the treatment of the disease for the two drugs were different and consequently "potentially complimentary."
The acquisition of Philadelphia, US based Spark would allow Roche to enter into the market for hemophilia gene therapy which has a large number of players. A number of the other players in the sector including the likes of Biomarin Pharma, Uniqure NV, and Sangamo are already in developmental stages of prospective treatments fort the disease.
Last week, the shares of Spark were at about $50 which was significantly below the high that the shares reached in July at more than $95 per share. Last year the company had announced that two out of 12 patients exhibited an unfavorable immune response after they were treated with a increased dose of Spark's hemophilia therapy SPK-8011 which resulted in the stocks falling significantly.
The Luxturna gene therapy treatment of Spark sold in the United States by the company itself and by Novartis in other parts of the world after its approval in 2017 costs about $850,000. It is one-time treatment used for treatment of a rare genetic disease which results in blindness in roughly about 1 in 200,000 individuals.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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