Receptos Inc., the drugmaker that’s seeking a development partner for its multiple sclerosis treatment, is fielding takeover interest from potential buyers, people with knowledge of the matter said.
Receptos has been seeking a partner to develop ozanimod, which is a potential treatment for MS as well as inflammatory bowel disease. The partnership discussions, with as many as ten companies, led to the takeover interest, the people said.
Receptos is working with an investment bank as it explores its options, the people said. Its shares rose 5.2 percent to $173.44 in New York Wednesday, giving it a market value of about $5.5 billion.
The company still favors a partnership agreement and no sale is imminent, the people said. Part of the logic for a potential buyer is that the cost of partnering would be high, making the additional expense of an outright acquisition relatively appealing, one person said.
Receptos’s most promising product, a treatment for the most common form of MS, is in advanced clinical trials. The disease, which robs patients of muscle coordination and balance, affects 2.3 million people worldwide, according to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Drugs typically have wholesale prices of more than $50,000 a year.
“We have publicly announced a partnering process, we’re speaking to a number of partners and that process is continuing and progressing,” said Graham Cooper, Receptos’s chief financial officer. “These processes often take as much as nine to 12 months to finalize.”
Cooper declined to comment on sale speculation.
Ozanimod is also being tested as a treatment for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which are gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders. The drugmaker said in October 2014 that a mid-stage trial in ulcerative colitis was successful and it will start a final-stage trial this year. It also has plans for a mid-stage trial in Crohn’s disease.
A sale of the San Diego-based company would be the latest in a string of multi-billion dollar deals struck by companies looking for new drug prospects. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies agreed about $100 billion of takeovers in the first three months of 2015, data compiled by Bloomberg show, more than twice the value announced a year before.
Receptos is also developing oral treatments for eosinophilic esophagitis, an inflammation of the foodpipe.
Founded in 2009, Receptos conducted an initial public offering in 2013, raising $73 million by selling shares at $14 each. Two of its executives -- Chief Executive Officer Faheem Hasnain and Chairman William Rastetetter -- previously worked at Biogen, which makes the multi-billion dollar multiple sclerosis medicine Tecfidera.