Lilly buys radiopharmaceutical startup Point Biopharma for $1.4B

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Eli Lilly and Co. corporate headquarters. (IBJ file photo)

Eli Lilly and Co. is jumping into the radiopharmaceutical business, a promising new way to deliver drugs to cancer patients with targeted treatments, by buying Point Biopharma Global Inc., an Indianapolis-based startup for $1.4 billion.

The two companies announced the acquisition this morning in a joint statement. Lilly is paying Point Biopharma $12.50 a share, an 85% premium over the company’s closing price on Monday of $6.68 a share.

The deal will give Lilly a toehold in a sector that is snowballing, with startup biotechs and large pharmaceutical companies alike spending billions of dollars in hopes of transforming how doctors and hospitals treat many cancers.

“Over the past few years, we have seen how well-designed radiopharmaceuticals can demonstrate meaningful results for patients with cancer and rapidly integrate into standards of care, yet the field remains in the early days of the impact it may ultimately deliver,” said Jacob Van Naarden, President of Loxo@Lilly, the oncology unit of Eli Lilly and Company.

He added: “We are excited by the potential of this emerging modality and see the acquisition of POINT as the beginning of our investment in developing multiple meaningful radioligand medicines for hard-to-treat cancers, as we have done in small molecule and biologic oncology drug discovery and development.”

Point Biopharma has a pipeline of clinical and preclinical-stage radioligand therapies in development for the treatment of cancer. Its lead compound, PNT2002, is in development for patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer after progression on hormonal treatment. Summary data from the study is expected by the end of this year.

Another compound, PNT20031 is a targeted radioligand therapy in development for the treatment of patients with gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors.

Joe McCann, CEO of Point Biopharma added: “The combination of Point’s team, infrastructure and capabilities with Lilly’s global resources and experience could significantly accelerate the discovery, development and global access to radiopharmaceuticals. I look forward to a future where patients all over the world can benefit from the new cancer treatment options made possible by the joining of our two companies today.”

Radioligand therapy can enable the precise targeting of cancer by linking a radioisotope to a targeting molecule that delivers radiation directly to cancer cells, enabling significant anti-tumor effectiveness while limiting the impact to healthy tissue.

Much of the explosive growth in this sector is happening in central Indiana, where large and small companies are vying to set up operations. Four years ago, for example, Novartis AG, a major drugmaker based in Switzerland, bought biotech Endocyte Inc. of West Lafayette for $2.1 billion, attracted by its lead compound, an experimental radiopharmacetical drug for prostate cancer.

Since then, at least a half-dozen companies have set up operations in this region.

Point Biopharma, formed four years ago, went public in 2021 following a combination in a reverse merger with Therapeutics Acquisition Corp. with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.

Point operates a brand-new 180,000-square foot building on Georgetown Road on the city’s northwest side that it renovated as a manufacturing plant for about $25 million. It is developing radioactive compounds to treat cancer patients.

The young company is the latest player in a field expected to see explosive growth as doctors and researchers look for new ways to shrink tumors and extend patients’ lives.

Companies have invested more than $100 million in central Indiana to build radioligand facilities, with cleanrooms that can produce isotopes to treat cancer.

The global market for nuclear medicine is expected to quintuple in about a decade, from $6 billion in 2019 to $30 billion in 2030, according to MEDraysintell, a European research firm specializing in nuclear medicine.

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