We recently learned that an Astex partnered cancer drug is about to enter Phase III clinical trials. LEE-011 is an orally available CDK4/6 inhibitor with potentially broad clinical application in the treatment of cancer that is being developed by Novartis in collaboration with Astex.
While we are very excited about this partnered program, we were recently informed by Astex management that this program was inconsequential to their company's valuation. Others beg to differ with regard to the promise of CDK4/6 inhibitors. Notably, Pfizer's CDK4/6 inhibitor, termed palbociclib (palbo), recently received FDA's breakthrough therapy designation and at least one analyst has estimated revenues for palbo could approach $9 billion. Given the new fact that this drug is about to enter Phase III trials, we find it hard to believe that the current value of LEE-011 to Astex is inconsequential.
The above represents to us yet another example of how the timing of the current proposed transaction with Otsuka at the proposed price does not make sense.