Bristol-Myers Slips As Regulatory Hiccups Delay Celgene Deal; Liver Cancer Study Faces Setback

Uncertainty over Bristol-Myers Squibb Co BMY's impending deal to acquire Celgene Corporation CELG and an adverse clinical trial readout were dragging the shares of the large-cap pharma company lower Monday.

FTC Concerns Over Celgene Deal 

Bristol-Myers said in a Monday press release that is remains actively engaged in discussions with the Federal Trade Commission, which is reviewing its proposed takeover of Celgene.

The two companies negotiated an agreement in early January under which Bristol-Myers would acquire Celgene in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $74 billion.

With the FTC expressing concerns, Bristol-Myers said it is looking to divest its psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis drug Otezla to facilitate to the closing of the transaction on a timely basis. 

Such a transaction is subject to further review by the FTC and hinges on the company entering a consent decree with the FTC.

Bristol-Myers said it expects the Celgene deal to close at the end of 2019 or in the beginning of 2020. This is a pushback from the earlier communicated deadline of the third quarter of 2019.

The company expects to use the proceeds from the proposed sale of Otezla for accelerating its post-closing deleveraging plans.

The deal has been vetted separately by shareholders of both companies.

Liver Cancer Drug Flunks Late-Stage Study

Separately, Bristol-Myers said the Phase 3 CHECKMATE-459 study that evaluated its Opdivo as a first-line treatment for patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma did not meet the primary endpoint of achieving statistical significance in overall survival.

The immunotherapy did show an improvement in overall survival compared to Nexavar, the current standard-of-care co-marketed by Bayer AG BAYRY and Onyx Pharma, according to Bristol-Myers. 

Bristol-Myers shares were down 6.1% at $46.34 at the time of publication Monday, while Celgene shares were falling by 4.26% to $94.66. 

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