Merrimack Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ:MACK) announced that it has commenced operating as a new, refocused research and clinical development company in connection with the completion today of its previously announced transaction with Ipsen S.A. valued at up to $1.025 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Merrimack sold to Ipsen its first commercial product, ONIVYDE®, including U.S. commercialization rights and its licensing agreement with Shire plc, and its development, license and supply agreement with Actavis for a generic version of doxorubicin hydrochloride (HCI) liposome injection that is marketed in the United States as DOXIL®.
Merrimack received $575 million in cash upon closing and is eligible to receive up to $450 million in additional regulatory approval-based milestone payments. Merrimack will also retain the rights to receive net milestone payments pursuant to its exclusive licensing agreement with Shire plc for the ex-U.S. development and commercialization of ONIVYDE for up to $33 million.
“The completion of this sale marks our first day as a new Merrimack: a refocused research and clinical development company, with a promising pipeline that is poised for continued long-term success and stockholder value creation,” said Richard Peters, M.D., Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer. “Today, we have a more sustainable financial structure than at any point in Merrimack’s history, which will allow us to deliver significant cash returns to our stockholders while also funding our long-term corporate objectives and strategies into the second half of 2019. We are also moving forward focused on MM-121, MM-141 and MM-310, our three clinical programs that we believe have the highest probability of success and the highest expected return on investment. The Board of Directors and the management team are confident in the tremendous opportunities for success in our focused pipeline on behalf of cancer patients around the world and as a means to deliver additional value to our stockholders.”
With the completion of the Ipsen transaction, Merrimack is now prioritizing three clinical programs:
- MM-121 (seribantumab) is a first-in-class fully human monoclonal antibody that binds to the HER3 receptor and targets heregulin positive cancers. Merrimack is currently conducting the Phase 2 randomized SHERLOC study evaluating MM-121 in HRG+ non-small cell lung cancer patients in combination with docetaxel or pemetrexed and plans to initiate another Phase 2 randomized study this year in Her2 negative, hormone receptor, and heregulin positive breast cancer patients.
- MM-141 (istiratumab) is a bispecific tetravalent antibody and a potent inhibitor of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway by targeting IGF1-R and HER3. Currently, Merrimack is conducting the CARRIE study, a Phase 2 randomized trial evaluating MM-141 in previously untreated metastatic pancreatic cancer patients with high levels of free IGF1 in combination with nab-paclitaxel and gemcitabine.
- MM-310 is an antibody-directed nanotherapeutic (ADN) that contains a novel prodrug of docetaxel and targets the EphA2 receptor, which is highly expressed in most solid tumor types. MM-310 was designed to improve the therapeutic window of docetaxel in major oncology indications, such as prostate, ovarian, bladder, gastric, pancreatic and lung cancers. A first-in-human Phase 1 study to evaluate safety and preliminary activity of MM-310 was initiated in the first quarter of 2017.
As previously announced, Merrimack intends to use the $575 million upfront payment, net of tax reserves and transaction-related and other costs, to:
- Invest $125 million to develop Merrimack’s streamlined oncology pipeline such that Merrimack will be able to fund itself into the second half of 2019;
- Extinguish the $175 million in outstanding Senior Secured Notes due in 2022, plus approximately $20 million of costs associated with the redemption; and
- Return $140 million to Merrimack’s stockholders through a special cash dividend. The Board of Directors plans to approve the special cash dividend and announce a record date and ex-dividend date in due course.
BofA Merrill Lynch and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC are serving as financial advisers to Merrimack and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP is serving as legal adviser.
Shares of Merrimack are currently trading at $3.23, up $0.15 or 5.03%. MACK has a 1-year high of $9.02 and a 1-year low of $2.83. The stock’s 50-day moving average is $3.12 and its 200-day moving average is $4.42.
On the ratings front, MACK has been the subject of a number of recent research reports. In a report issued on March 1, Cowen analyst Eric Schmidt reiterated a Hold rating on MACK. Separately, on January 10, Baird’s Michael Ulz reiterated a Hold rating on the stock and has a price target of $5.00.
According to TipRanks.com, which ranks over 7,500 financial analysts and bloggers to gauge the performance of their past recommendations, Eric Schmidt and Michael Ulz have a yearly average return of 30.5% and 25.8% respectively. Schmidt has a success rate of 61% and is ranked #39 out of 4562 analysts, while Ulz has a success rate of 71% and is ranked #652.
Merrimack Pharmaceuticals, Inc. engages in discovering, developing and preparing to commercialize innovative medicines consisting of novel therapeutics paired with diagnostics for the treatment of cancer. Its offers its first commercial product, Onivyde, which is a novel encapsulation of the marketed chemotherapy drug irinotecan in liposomal formulation.