Gilead Gains Forty Seven’s Investigational Immuno-Oncology Therapy in Multiple Clinical Studies for Diseases Including Myelodysplastic Syndrome, Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma
Transaction Supports Gilead’s Strategic Focus in Oncology and Gives Access to Potential New First-in-Class Program and Innovative Pipeline
FOSTER CITY, Calif. & MENLO PARK, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Gilead Sciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: GILD) and Forty Seven, Inc. (Nasdaq: FTSV) announced today that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement pursuant to which Gilead will acquire Forty Seven for $95.50 per share in cash. The transaction, which values Forty Seven at approximately $4.9 billion, was unanimously approved by both the Gilead and Forty Seven Boards of Directors and is anticipated to close during the second quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
Through the addition of Forty Seven’s investigational lead product candidate, magrolimab, the acquisition will strengthen Gilead’s immuno-oncology research and development portfolio. Magrolimab is a monoclonal antibody in clinical development for the treatment of several cancers for which new, transformative medicines are urgently needed, including myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The investigational therapy targets CD47, a “do not eat me” signal that allows cancer cells to avoid destruction thereby permitting the patient’s own innate immune system to engulf and eradicate those cancer cells. Forty Seven presented promising results of a Phase 1b study of magrolimab in patients with MDS and AML at the American Society of Hematology meeting in December 2019. Magrolimab has the potential to be a first-in-class therapy.
“This agreement builds on Gilead’s presence in immuno-oncology and adds significant potential to our clinical pipeline,” said Daniel O’Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gilead Sciences. “Magrolimab complements our existing work in hematology, adding a non-cell therapy program that complements Kite’s pipeline of cell therapies for hematological cancers. With a profile that lends itself to combination therapies, magrolimab could potentially have transformative benefits for a range of tumor types. We are looking forward to working with the highly experienced team at Forty Seven to help patients with some of the most challenging forms of cancer.”
“This is an exciting day for patients who may one day benefit from future anti-CD47 therapies and other immuno-oncology treatments based on our research and an exciting time for Forty Seven as this allows us to achieve our vision of helping patients defeat their cancer,” commented Mark McCamish, MD, PhD, President and Chief Executive Officer of Forty Seven. “We are pleased to join Gilead and believe that by combining our scientific expertise with Gilead’s strength in developing treatments that modify the immune system, we will be able to more rapidly advance our therapies.”
Forty Seven is initially studying magrolimab in patients with MDS and AML. Additional studies are ongoing in non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and solid tumors. Magrolimab has been granted Fast Track designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of MDS and AML, and for the treatment of relapsed or refractory DLBCL and follicular lymphoma, two forms of B-cell NHL. Magrolimab has also been granted Orphan Drug designation by the FDA for the treatment of MDS and AML and by the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of AML.
More than 400 patients have received the compound to date through clinical trials.
Ongoing Phase 1b Clinical Trial
In December 2019, Forty Seven presented promising results of a Phase 1b trial evaluating magrolimab in combination with azacitidine in untreated patients with higher risk MDS and untreated patients with AML, who are ineligible for induction chemotherapy. This has led to the initiation of a potential registrational cohort in MDS. All patients received a 1 mg/kg priming dose of magrolimab, coupled with intrapatient dose escalation to mitigate on-target anemia. Patients were then treated with full doses of azacitidine and magrolimab maintenance doses of 30 mg/kg weekly.
As of the data cutoff of November 18, 2019, 62 patients had been treated with the combination in the Phase 1b portion of the trial, including 35 patients with MDS and 27 patients with AML.
Clinical Activity Data
As of the data cutoff, 46 patients were evaluable for response assessment, including 24 patients with untreated higher-risk MDS and 22 patients with untreated AML, who were ineligible for induction chemotherapy.
- In higher-risk MDS, the overall response rate (ORR) was 92 percent, with 12 patients (50 percent) achieving a complete response (CR), eight patients (33 percent) achieving a marrow CR and two patients (8 percent) achieving hematologic improvement. Two patients (8 percent) had stable disease.
- In untreated AML, the ORR was 64 percent, with nine patients (41 percent) achieving a CR, three patients (14 percent) achieving a CR with complete blood count recovery (CRi) and one patient (5 percent) achieving a morphologic leukemia-free state (MLFS). Seven patients (32 percent) had stable disease and one patient (5 percent) had progressive disease.
- The median time to response among MDS and AML patients treated with the combination was 1.9 months.
- Median duration of response and median overall survival have not been reached for either MDS or AML patients, with a median follow-up of 6.4 months (range 2.0 to 14.4 months) for MDS and 8.8 months (range 1.9 to 16.9 months) for AML.
As of the data cutoff, the combination of magrolimab and azacitidine was well-tolerated, with no evidence of increased toxicities compared to azacitidine alone. Adverse events (AEs) were consistent with prior clinical experience. No deaths were observed in the first 60 days on combination treatment and only one patient out of 62 (1.6 percent) discontinued treatment due to a treatment-related AE.
Beyond magrolimab, Forty Seven is preparing to advance two additional investigational compounds into clinical testing. FSI-174, an anti-cKIT antibody, is being developed in combination with magrolimab as a novel, all-antibody conditioning regimen to address the limitations of current stem cell transplantation conditioning regimens. FSI-189, an anti-SIRPα antibody, is being developed for the treatment of cancer, as well as certain non-oncology settings, including transplantation conditioning.
Terms of the Transaction
Under the terms of the merger agreement, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gilead will promptly commence a tender offer to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Forty Seven’s common stock at a price of $95.50 per share in cash. Following successful completion of the tender offer, Gilead will acquire all remaining shares not tendered in the offer through a second step merger at the same price as in the tender offer.
Consummation of the tender offer is subject to a minimum tender of at least a majority of outstanding Forty Seven shares plus Forty Seven shares underlying vested options, the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions.
Gilead plans to pay all cash consideration for the transaction. The tender offer is not subject to a financing condition.
Citi and J.P. Morgan are acting as joint financial advisors to Gilead. Centerview Partners LLC is acting as the exclusive financial advisor to Forty Seven. Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is serving as legal counsel to Gilead and Cooley LLP is serving as legal counsel to Forty Seven.