French drug maker Sanofi said Wednesday that it will acquire Kadmon Pharmaceuticals for $1.9 billion, bolstering its transplant medicines business with a newly approved treatment for graft-versus-host disease.
The all-cash transaction sees Kadmon shares worth $9.50 per share, or a 79% premium to Tuesday’s closing price.
In July, Kadmon secured U.S. approval for Rezurock, a new treatment for chronic graft-versus-host disease — a debilitating immune condition that can affect as many as half of the blood cancer patients who undergo bone marrow transplants. Rezurock was Kadmon’s first internally developed medicine to reach the market.
Once the Kadmon acquisition closes, Rezurock will become the third drug in Sanofi’s established transplant medicine business.
“Our existing scale, expertise, and relationships in transplant create an ideal platform to achieve the full potential of Rezurock, which will address the significant unmet medical needs of patients with chronic graft-versus-host disease around the world,” Olivier Charmeil, Sanofi’s executive vice president for general medicines, said in a statement.
Kadmon CEO Harlan Waksal said, “We are excited that Sanofi has acknowledged the value of Rezurock and the deep potential of our pipeline.”
Harlan Waksal shares the most recognized and infamous surname in biotech with his brother Sam, who founded Kadmon after a felony conviction and stint in federal prison for the insider trading scandal involving ImClone Systems and Martha Stewart.
Harlan came out of retirement in 2014 to take over the Kadmon CEO job from his brother, tasked with fixing a distressed company that was losing money, burdened with excess debt, and struggling to develop new drugs on its own. He took the company public in 2016, raising money that was used to fix the balance sheet and focus drug-development efforts on the medicine that is now Rezurock.