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Valeant selling Provenge maker Dendreon to Chinese conglomerate for $820m

Dan Stanton

By Dan Stanton+

10-Jan-2017
Last updated on 10-Jan-2017 at 14:16 GMT2017-01-10T14:16:19Z

Image: iStock/designer491
Image: iStock/designer491

Sanpower Group says Dendreon's in-house manufacturing set-up will remain in place as it looks to increase US and Asian penetration of the prostate cancer cell therapy.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International announced yesterday it has entered into an agreement to sell Provenge-maker Dendreon Pharmaceuticals to Sanpower and will use the $819.9m (€774m) proceeds to pay off loan debt.

“Sanpower aspires to become a leading healthcare company in China, focusing on Oncology, Obi/Gyn and Rehabilitation,” Hua Guikan, a spokesman from the privately owned conglomerate told Biopharma-Reporter.

“Dendreon fits our strategy perfectly. We believe precision medicine is the future for cancer treatment.”

According to Guikan, Sanpower’s site in Nanjing contains the world's biggest cord blood bank and “adding Provenge will enable Sanpower to elevate [its] platform significantly, and pave the road to the future.”

Provenge history and future

In 2010 , Dendreon received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for its only commercialised product. Provenge (sipuleucel-T). The product is an autologous cellular immunotherapy designed to stimulate a patient’s own immune system to respond against advanced prostate cancer.

But after efforts to reduce the costs of manufacture amid disappointing sales and mounting debts – including attempts to automate production, and the cutting of jobs and the sale of facilities – the firm filed for bankruptcy and was snapped up by Valeant in February 2015 for $495m.

“Valeant has completely turned around the business, with new management team and switched sales channels to focus on urologists. After careful due diligence, we are confident on the fundamentals and see a lot of potential in Dendreon,” Guikan said.

“We see lots of potential in Provenge, will focus on improving the US market share, whereas  Provenge penetrated only 7% of the patient base; we also plan to bring Provenge to China and other Asian countries in the near future.”

Manufacture

Provenge consists of a signalling protein attached to white blood cells which, when returned to the patient from whom they have been harvested, stimulate an immune response against cancer tumor cells.

“Dendreon is currently manufacturing Provenge in house,” Guikan continued, and “we have no intention to change it.” The company has facilities in Seattle, Washington; Bridgewater, New Jersey; Union City, Georgia; and Seal Beach, California.

Furthermore, he added Dendreon’s facilities and know-how could be further leveraged to advance Sanpower’s presence for other immuno-oncology products including CAR-T and CRISPER-cas9.

Netherlands-based CMO PharmaCell BV  was selected to make Provenge in 2013 for the European market, but the contractor told us the contract was terminated at the end of 2015 after Valeant withdrew the Market Authorization for Provenge in Europe.

Valeant debt

When Valeant acquired Dendreon, then CEO Mike Pearson declaring Provenge had been “undermanaged as it has an infrastructure in place built for a billion dollar product.”

But according to the firm, the sale to Sanpower – expected to close in the first half of 2017 – and the exit from the urological oncology sector is necessary as part of a realignment of its product portfolio.

“We are pleased to take this step forward in our divestiture program and are continuing to evaluate transactions to simplify our business and strengthen our balance sheet,” Valeant’s CEO Joseph Papa said in a statement.

Valeant also yesterday announced it was selling three skincare brands within its cosmetics division to L'Oréal for $1.3bn, also intended permanently repay term loan debt under its Senior Credit Facility.

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