As a Christmas Eve present to itself, Cubist Pharmaceuticals
The acquisition is costing Cubist $9 million in up-front cash (plus the previous $6 million in October). If everything works out and the Illumigen drug gets approved to treat HCV, then Cubist will only have to pay up to $76 million in clinical trial and regulatory milestones for the drug. And that's cheap for a marketed HCV compound.
Considering that the Illumigen drug isn't expected to start phase 1 testing until next year, it will be another year or two before we see this drug even in phase 2 proof-of-concept studies. No details were released about the Illumigen drug, other than the fact that it is a protein and an "interferon replacement product."
With the HCV treatment space looking like it will move more and more toward treatment with an interferon, plus oral small molecule therapy, it's hard to see how another protein-based drug (which won't be taken orally) will fit in the front-line treatment regimen for the disease. Unless, of course, its efficacy and safety can trump that of Roche's Pegasys and Schering-Plough's Peg-Intron interferon drugs.
That being said, with so many hepatitis C patients of all genotypes not responding well to even the most promising therapies -- like Vertex Pharmaceuticals'
Right now, Cubist's future success or failure is based completely on its approved antibiotic drug, Cubicin. There are many one-drug-wonder specialty pharmas like Cubist looking to acquire new compounds to fill out bare drug pipelines and diversify away from a reliance on one compound.
Sometimes it can be maddening to watch drugmakers spend shareholder cash on these types of acquisitions -- exhibit A: OSI Pharmaceuticals
Vertex is an active pick of our market-beating Rule Breakers newsletter. You can check out all our other recommendations, as well as get access to our message boards and exclusive content, with a 30-day free trial.
More from The Motley Fool
Why Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. Stock Skyrocketed 33% in December
Cubist Pharmaceuticals shoots to the moon after a big pharma rival agreed to purchase it for a hefty premium.
Why Shares of Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc Skyrocketed
The superbug specialist is Big Pharma's latest big buyout target.
Why Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc. Shares Soared in After-Hours Trading on Friday
Antibiotic drug developer Cubist Pharmaceuticals surges in after-hours trading following a report that a large pharmaceutical company may be interested in acquiring it for a handsome premium.