Will Axis-Shield give into rising pressure of takeover offer from Alere?

The Medical Technology Blog

Alere, a key player in the rapid point-of-care and laboratory diagnostics market with products that focus on infectious disease, cardiology, oncology, drug abuse and women’s health, has brushed aside negative feedback from Axis-Shield and pushed ahead with a cash offer for the UK-based company.

As part of the offer, Axis-Shield’s shareholders will be offered £4.60 (or approximately US$7.51) for each Axis-Shield share held by them, valuing the transaction at approximately £230 million (or approximately US$375 million). The offer will be conditional upon Alere receiving valid acceptances in respect of not less than 90 per cent of Axis-Shield shares to which the offer relates and not less than 90 per cent of the voting rights carried by those shares.

In June, Alere had made an indicative non-binding proposal to acquire Axis-Shield, however, the latter rejected the proposal and also turned down an offer to conduct further discussions with Alere. At the time, Alere revealed that it was keen to work towards a recommended takeover offer for Axis-Shield and that it would welcome the opportunity to discuss a possible transaction in a constructive manner. The company said its proposal was “a means to facilitate discussions” with Axis-Shield and its shareholders. Now, in a move that adds further pressure on its target, Alere has made an additional open market purchase of approximately 6.4 per cent of Axis-Shield’s share capital.

Axis-Shield is an international in vitro diagnostics company, headquartered in Dundee, UK, with R&D and manufacturing bases in Dundee and Oslo. The group specialises in the supply of instruments and tests for the rapidly growing physician’s office testing market and the development, manufacture and marketing of diagnostic kits in areas of clinical need, including cardiovascular and neurological diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes. During 2010, the company made significant advances with the continued growth of its international in vitro diagnostics business and revenues exceeded £100 million for the first time.

Alere believes it’s all cash offer is highly attractive for Axis-Shield shareholders, representing a ‘compelling value proposition’ with a high degree of certainty at a substantial premium to the undisturbed share price. In addition, the company expects Axis-Shield will be complementary to its existing businesses and that it can help develop and grow the Axis-Shield product portfolio to be a clear leader worldwide in its core markets.

Over the forthcoming weeks, the question remains as to whether Axis-Shield will succumb to the pressure to reach an agreement Alere, and whether the latter, with revenues of over US$2.1 billion behind it for 2010, has done enough to win over the UK-based company.



Espicom Business Intelligence
The Medical Technology Blog

Results of a survey conducted at europacolon’s European CRC Patient Conference show that patients believe tests using blood samples would encourage more people to participate in regular screening for colorectal cancer.

The survey was jointly conducted by Epigenomics and europacolon, a European non-profit organisation dedicated to colorectal cancer. Of the participants in the survey, more than 50 per cent had previously heard of the possibility of colorectal cancer blood testing and more than 70 per cent thought that using a blood test would encourage more people to participate in regular screening for the condition. Some of the most often mentioned reasons that survey participants gave for preferring blood tests were ease-of-use and simplicity, not having to handle stool samples as necessary for conventional non-invasive testing, and overall fit with other routine blood tests.

In June, Quest Diagnostics, one of Epigenomics’ partners in the US, in collaboration with the non-profit organisation Colon Cancer Alliance, reported the results of a US national telephone survey of more than 1,300 men and women 50 years of age and older. In this survey, 31 per cent of the participants reported that they had never been screened for CRC. Of the respondents between 60 to 70 years of age that had previously participated in screening, 33 per cent stated that they had only been screened once in the past. These results highlight widespread lack of adherence to national guidelines in the US, which recommend regular screening by colonoscopy in combination with other tests for colorectal cancer for all men and women aged 50 and older. When asked about the option of a blood test, 78 per cent of the participants said that they were likely to take a blood test for colorectal cancer screening and 75 per cent said they were more likely to get screened more frequently if a blood test was offered to them.

According to Dr Jürgen Beck, Senior VP Medical Affairs of Epigenomics, the lack of widespread acceptance and regular use of conventional methods for the early detection of colorectal cancer, such as colonoscopy and stool tests, severely limits the potential of screening to reduce mortality from this common cancer. The two surveys in Europe and the US show the potential of blood-based screening as an approach to increase compliance. Epigenomics expects these findings to be substantiated further through studies into patient preferences and screening adherence that are ongoing at clinical centres in the US and Europe.

Epigenomics has developed an in vitro diagnostic blood test for the early detection of colorectal cancer, known as the Septin9 test. Alongside its partner, Abbott, the companies already market their respective first-generation CE-marked Septin9 tests in Europe, the Middle East, Asia/Pacific and further markets. Epigenomics is in the process of developing a second-generation Septin9 assay as a colorectal cancer screening test for the US and European markets. The company expects to submit this enhanced Septin9 colorectal cancer screening test, branded Epi proColon 2.0, to the FDA for regulatory review before the end of the year. Under licences from Epigenomics, Septin9 testing is currently offered in the US by Quest Diagnostics (ColoVantage) and ARUP Laboratories (Methylated Septin9 Test) as laboratory-developed tests aiding in the detection of colorectal cancer.

This article was provided by Sophie Sanderson, editor of Espicom’s newsletter Diagnostics Focus.



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