Provenge in a dish not yet sold: Valeant ups Dendreon offer after competing bids

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Valeant ups bid for Provenge maker Dendreon
Valeant ups bid for Provenge maker Dendreon

Related tags Cancer

Bankrupt cell therapy firm Dendreon has attracted more suitors according to stalking horse bidder Valeant, which upped its offer for the Provenge (sipuleucel-T) developer to $400m this week.

Valeant was the first suitor to bid for Dendreon when it tabled a $296m (€258m) offer last month​.

The move positioned Valeant as the “stalking horse” in an auction scheduled for February 12 and also secured the firm a break-up fee if its bid is not successful.

Last night the Canada-based Valeant announced it had increased​ its offer to $400m, citing “competing bids​” for Dendreon and its assets.

By "assets" Valeant means the product Provenge, which is an autologous cellular immunotherapy designed to boost immune response in prostate cancer patients.

The treatment, which was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2010, is made by taking immune (dendritic) cells from a patient, incubating these with a fusion protein called prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) that is found in 95% of prostate cancer cells and then infusing the cells back into the patient.

Provenge production

Dendreon filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last November after efforts to reduce the cost of making Provenge though automation​, selling its New Jersey plant​ and reducing its workforce​ failed to offset disappointing sales and mounting debts.

Since filing the Seattle cell therapy firm has continued to make Provenge for the US market at its facilities in Atlanta, Georgia and Seal Beach, California.

The firm proposed exiting both plants as part of its efforts to reduce production costs, instead suggesting that manufacturing could shift to smaller satellite manufacturing units “located in strategically high volume locations​” in an SEC filing last year.

Contract manufacture?

How Valeant will manufacture Provenge if it wins the auction is unclear, however, for other products the firm uses a “virtual” model that relies on third-party production by a pool of 800 contract manufacturing organisations (CMO).

Furthermore, Provenge production is already contracted out for the European market. Netherlands-based contractor PharmaCell BV​ has made the cell therapy since 2013 after Dendreon abandoned its plan of setting up its own site in Germany​.

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