"If Roche really wants to get into the orphan drug business, buying Vertex would be a better fit, in my opinion. Vertex is going to dominate the cystic fibrosis treatment market for the foreseeable future, which is as big a commercial opportunity, if not larger, than anything Alexion is working on. Plus, with Vertex, Roche could also bolster its sagging hepatitis C business. A Roche acquisition of Vertex might be just as expensive as buying Alexion, but from a strategic standpoint, the former makes more sense to me. "
AF did not mention the fact Roche, with a buyout of VRTX would also gain the potential next generation drug to treat influenza, VX 787, to follow Tamiflu (which is a current cash cow for Roche) and acquire the potential blockbuster oral JAK 3 inhibitor to treat numerous autoimmune diseases with VX 509. IMHO, the offering price would likely start at 30 to 40 billion. And JNJ would likely consider a counter offer.
If a VRTX buyout is going to occur, it makes sense to occur sooner rather than later, because VRTX stock price is likely going higher on its own as positive clinical trials treating CF, hep C and RA are announced throughout the remainder of the year, making a buyout even more costly by waiting for results.
While I agree with all of those thoughts (they make perfect sense), it has always been strange to me that vertex has not already been snapped up over the last 3 years as it became obvious that their science works more than it fails. They have had failures with epilepsy and vx222 but these are far outweighed by the successful medicines. What is it about them that has made them an unattractive target, not even an offer, even a good solid rumor of one. They do not seem to interest the big pharma companies even with the success and given the cap there are only a small number of companies who could buy them at this point. This might be a closed door for vertex shareholders unless it happens very soon.
The CF franchise has still struggled to gain 'market acceptance' of its future success. It was not until the last two presentations that it seems the market is starting to get it. I think offers will come only after substantive data is released, so as you say, it simply may be too late at that point as the market will likely fully value this at that point.