Nektar hopes to attract fresh valuation

In 2013 Theravance split itself into Theravance Biopharma and what was to become Innoviva in what looked like an attempt to flush out an acquirer for one of these divisions. A similar logic might lie behind today’s decision to spin out Nektar Therapeutics’ painkiller NKTR-181 into a separate legal entity, Inheris Biopharma. On the other hand, while the Theravance cleavage gave rise to a new listed business that immediately attracted an independent valuation, Inheris will – at least initially – be a wholly owned Nektar subsidiary. Nektar had enjoyed a healthy climb a couple of years ago as NKTR-181 showed the potential to become an abuse-proof painkiller, but subsequently the group’s valuation – and collapse from the highs of mid-2018 – has had more to do with its oncology business. The Inheris spin-out might enable Nektar to be seen largely as a cancer company, and could help distance the group from association with the US opioid crisis; NKTR-181 faces a US PDUFA date in August. On the other hand, if a drastic solution is sought the group might bear in mind that, six years on, neither Theravance Biopharma nor Innoviva has been acquired.

After the split: Nektar's remaining pipeline
Project Mechanism Indication
Phase III
Bempegaldesleukin (NKTR-214)* CD122-biased agonist Various incl melanoma and RCC
Onzeald (etirinotecan pegol) Topoisomerase I inhibitor Brain metastases in breast cancer
PEGPH20 Pegylated hyaluronidase  Pancreatic cancer
Phase II 
Dapirolizumab pegol** Anti-CD40L antibody Lupus
NKTR-262 Toll-like receptor agonist Solid tumours
Phase I
NKTR-358*** IL-2 conjugate Treg stimulator Autoimmune diseases
NKTR-255 IL-15 receptor agonist Cancer and virology
*Partnered with Bristol-Myers Squibb; **partnered with Biogen; ***partnered with Lilly; partnered with Gilead in virology. Source: EvaluatePharma, company website.

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