Shares of Dova Pharmaceuticals (DOVA), a biopharmaceutical company focused on rare blood-based diseases, leapt higher following a generous buyout offer. The European rare-disease drugmaker Sobi (SWTUY) will acquire Dova for up to $29 per share, which is around 45% more than the stock's previous day closing price. Shares were up 38.6% as of 11:35 a.m. EDT on Monday.
Sales of Dova's lead drug, a platelet boosting therapy called Doptelet, haven't been nearly as strong as expected since launching last year. Strong competition from Promacta, which is marketed by Novartis (NVS -0.46%) is largely to blame.
Second-quarter Promacta sales rose 23% to an annualized $1.4 billion. Sobi's a lot larger than Dova, which gives the biotech a much better chance to push its way into the market for platelet therapy.
Unlike Promacta, Doptelet doesn't have a scary black box warning on its label. That should make it easier to sell, but up until this July, Doptelet sales were limited to liver-disease patients about to undergo a procedure that could lead to uncontrolled bleeding.
In June, Dova Pharmaceuticals stock soared when the Food and Drug Administration approved Doptelet for the treatment of chronic immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), a rare bleeding disorder that affects around 60,000 Americans.
Doptelet could be useful for a range of disorders, but Sobi's most interested in boosting platelet production for cancer patients affected by chemotherapy-induced thrombocytopenia (CIT). The company will pay Dova $27.50 per share in cash and another $1.50 per share if Doptelet earns FDA approval to treat the fairly large CIT population.
Promacta's been able to produce blockbuster sales with a few indications that do not include CIT, which means Sobi could have the important niche to itself.