Baxter has purchased Sigma-Tau’s portfolio of cancer treatments for €793.5M ($900 million). With this important acquisition, Baxter is reinforcing its oncology presence by owning Oncaspar, a treatment against acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Oncaspar is the only FDA-approved pegylated formulation of L-asparaginase, the enzyme that depletes the aminoacid asparagine. Whilst normal cells can produce asparagine, leukemic cells are unable to produce enough asparagine to survive on their own. L-asparaginase is given to leukemia patients to ensure depletion of asparagine that is circulating in the blood. Depletion, in other words, starving the leukemic cells of asparagine ultimately results in leukemic cell death. Oncaspar’s annual sales amount to €88M, according to the statement. Still, the purchase needs to be approved by the competent authorities.
However, Baxter is not only buying Oncaspar, but also Sigma-Tau oncology infrastructure and calaspargase pegol, another candidate for the same kind of leukemia. This new assets are part of Baxter’s plan to create two separate companies. Baxter’s biosciences division will constitute an independent, publicly traded company named Baxalta. The new company will cover unmet medical needs in niche areas of oncology, as well as technology platforms such as gene therapy.
Baxter also nourished its soon-to-come spinoff with the recent acquisition of SuppreMol, to improve its portfolio of autoimmune treatments. The splitting transaction is expected to be accomplished by mid-2015, subject to market and regulatory approvals.