Shares of InterMune Inc (NASDAQ:ITMN) were up around 10.8% on Mar 7 to end the day’s trading at $33.87, after reports from news agencies like Reuters and CNBC claimed that the company was attracting takeover interest from several pharmaceutical giants.
InterMune Inc (NASDAQ:ITMN) has emerged as an attractive acquisition target after the chances of Esbriet (pirfenidone) gaining U.S. approval brightened following the announcement of encouraging top-line results from the phase III ASCEND study on the drug last month.
The ASCEND study is evaluating Esbriet in patients suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in the U.S. Results from the study showed that treatment with Esbriet significantly reduced IPF disease progression at week 52 thus meeting the primary objective of the study. Esbriet also demonstrated significant treatment effects in the six-minute walk test distance change and progression-free survival.
We note that Esbriet is the only approved drug in the world for the treatment of IPF. Esbriet is approved and available in Germany, France, Italy and the UK among several other EU countries. The drug is also approved in countries like Canada, Japan, China, India, Argentina and Mexico. However, it is yet to be available for IPF patients in the U.S.
Several pharma companies have seen the worst of the patent cliff and are slowly offsetting these losses on the back of multiple initiatives. At this point of time several large pharma companies would love to have an orphan drug like Esbriet in their portfolio. Companies like Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis (NVS) and Sanofi(SNY), which are developing candidates for IPF, may also target the maker of Esbriet.
InterMune presently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the same sector includeBiogen Idec Inc. (BIIB) carrying a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).