Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche is nearing a deal to buy Philadelphia-based biotechnology company Spark Therapeutics, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter.
A deal for Spark could be announced Monday, if not sooner, at a price tag of nearly $5 billion, according to the report. Spark was founded in 2013 out of gene-therapy research at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
In December 2017, Spark Therapeutics received a landmark FDA approval as its inherited retinal disease drug Luxturna (voretigene neparvovec-rzyl), became the first gene therapy ever approved for an inherited disease. Watch the EyewireTV coverage here.
Luxturna is a one-time gene therapy indicated for the treatment of patients with confirmed biallelic RPE65 mutation-associated retinal dystrophy. The drug is the first FDA-approved gene therapy for a genetic disease, the first and only pharmacologic treatment for an inherited retinal disease, and the first adeno-associated virus vector gene therapy approved in the United States.
In addition to Luxturna, the deal would allow Roche to expand its presence treating hemophilia, which is a new and emerging category for the company, according to the WSJ. In 2017, the FDA approved the company’s hemophilia A treatment Hemlibra, which analysts expect will have billions of dollars in yearly sales. If Spark’s hemophilia gene therapies pan out, Roche would be able to expand its offerings in the area
The WSJ report also stated that there was at least one other bidder for Spark as of Friday, though it isn’t clear who.