What happened

Shares of The Medicines Company (NASDAQ:MDCO) are up 18.6% at 12:19 p.m. EST after Bloomberg reported that the drugmaker had gotten interest from potential acquirers, including Novartis (NYSE:NVS).

So what

A potential suitor would be after The Medicines Company's cholesterol-lowering drug inclisiran, which posted solid phase 3 results this week. The company plans to file a marketing application with the Food and Drug Administration before the end of the year and then file in Europe at the beginning of next year.

The acquisition wouldn't come cheap. Even before today's move, The Medicines Company had tripled this year and now sits at a market cap over $5.5 billion. At five times sales, there's already $1 billion in sales baked into the drug.

Amgen's (NASDAQ:AMGN) Repatha, which has the same target as inclisiran, had a run rate of about $670 million based on third-quarter revenue. Sales of the drug are still growing -- they were up 40% year over year in the most recent quarter -- so hitting $1 billion with inclisiran doesn't seem too far-fetched.

A larger company like Novartis would have a much easier time competing with Amgen, as well as Sanofi (NASDAQ:SNY) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:REGN), which sell a drug called Praluent that's also in the same class of drugs.

Arms in business suits shaking hands

Image source: Getty Images.

Now what

The rumor that Novartis is interested in buying The Medicines Company is likely true, but that doesn't mean that a deal will definitely get done; the companies still have to agree to a price.

In fact, one side feeling the need to leak the rumor of the potential deal to the media could be a sign that the two sides are far from reaching a compromise.

Without any inside knowledge, biotech investors should proceed with caution at this buoyed price.