GeneOnline’s Weekly News Highlights: Aug 28-Sept 1

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GeneOnline’s editorial team has compiled a digest of top international biotechnology and healthcare news of the week to help readers keep abreast of global biomedical industry updates.

Related article: Danaher Acquires Abcam for $5.7 Billion

Danaher Acquires Abcam for $5.7 Billion

In a press release on August 28, Danaher Corporation announced they had entered into an agreement to purchase Abcam, a producer, distributor and seller of protein research tools including antibodies, reagents, biomarkers and assays. Danaher will acquire all outstanding shares of the British life science company at a price of $24.00 per share. The total value of the sale is approximately $5.7 billion. This includes both assumed debts and net acquired cash. In regards to Abcam’s operations, it is expected to operate under Danaher’s Life Science segment as a standalone company. 

The Biden Administration Announces First 10 Drugs Selected for Medicare Price Negotiation 

On August 29, the Biden administration released its list of 10 prescription medicines that will be subject to the first-ever price negotiations by the U.S. Medicare health program that covers 66 million people. President Joe Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law last year, allows the Medicare health program for Americans aged 65 and over to negotiate prices for some of its most costly drugs. The agreed-upon prices for the first round of drugs, which must be at least 25% lower than the original list prices, are scheduled to go into effect in 2026. The 10 drugs subject to the initial talks in 2023 are listed in the table below:

First 10 drugs selected for Medicare drug price negotiation

Ginkgo Partners with Google Cloud to Integrate Large Language Model into Synthetic Biology

Google Cloud and Ginkgo Bioworks announced on August 29 a five-year strategic cloud and AI partnership designed to enable Ginkgo to develop and deploy AI tools for biology and biosecurity. During the strategic partnership, Ginkgo will develop new, state-of-the-art large language models (LLMs) across genomics, protein function, and synthetic biology using Google Cloud’s Vertex AI platform. This will help Ginkgo’s customers accelerate innovation and discovery in a variety of fields, including pharmaceutical research, agriculture, industrial manufacturing, and biosecurity. As the need for cloud computing expands, Ginkgo intends to use Google Cloud as its primary cloud service provider, greatly increasing its next-generation cloud computing resources for its customers. Aside from providing funding, Google Cloud will also assist Ginkgo in achieving certain milestones during the next three years.

Novo Nordisk Acquires Embark Biotech to Expand Obesity and Cardiometabolic Pipeline

After announcing the buyout of Canada-based Inversago Pharma in early August, Novo Nordisk revealed its plan of acquiring another biotech company on August 30 to expand its obesity business. The Danish pharma giant has acquired Copenhagen-based Embark Biotech, including its lead metabolic program, and has entered a three-year research and development collaboration to discover and develop novel pharmaceuticals to treat obesity and related co-morbidities. Under the terms of the agreement, Novo Nordisk receives the full rights to develop and commercialize Embark’s lead program for obesity and other cardiometabolic diseases, with an upfront cash payment of €15 million ($16.3 million), together with payments of up to €456 million ($496.4 million) for potential development, regulatory, and commercial milestones.

Amgen’s Acquisition of Horizon Promises Success as Legal Hurdles Cleared

In late 2022, Amgen proposed a US$27.8 billion acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics, but in mid-May 2023, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) intervened, filing an antitrust lawsuit against Amgen to prevent the transaction from proceeding. In a dramatic turnaround, the companies simultaneously issued press releases on September 1, announcing that they had reached a settlement agreement with the FTC and that the agency had agreed to withdraw its objections to the transaction. With the legal hurdles cleared, the companies are moving full speed ahead with the final steps of the acquisition, which is expected to close in the early fourth quarter of 2023.

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