A roundup of some of the biggest stories coming out of German pharma, including Merck’s better-than-expected Q1 earnings; Stada’s possible return to the stock market; CDMO Vetter’s expanded capacity in the US and Germany; Bayer’s elimination of some 1,500 jobs, and BioNTech’s bid for MediLink’s solid tumour platform.


Merck KGaA’s Q1 adjusted profit declines less than feared (Reuters)

Merck KGaA reported better-than-expected adjusted earnings, helped by strong demand for its pharmaceuticals and amid currency-adjusted sales growth in semiconductor materials.
The German diversified group reported 8.4% lower first-quarter earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), adjusted for one-offs, at 1.45 billion euros ($1.57 billion).
That beat the average analyst estimate of 1.36 billion euros posted on the company’s website, helped by revenue from cancer drug Bavencio, which now fully accrues to Merck after former partner Pfizer left their alliance last year.


Stada could see IPO as soon as end Q3, sources say (Reuters)

German drug manufacturer Stada could return to the stock market as soon as after the summer if bids are not high enough in a possible sale sought by its owners, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters.
The alternative option of an initial public offering in Frankfurt is already in preparation by private equity shareholders Bain Capital and Cinven, though a final decision on timing is dependent on market conditions, the people said.

Germany’s Gerresheimer to acquire Blitz LuxCo for $866 mln (Reuters)

German packaging and medical equipment maker Gerresheimer said on Thursday it signed a purchase agreement for acquiring Blitz LuxCo Sarl, the holding company of the Bormioli Pharma Group, for an enterprise value of 800 million euros ($866.32 million).
The medical equipment maker said the transaction will be financed by a consortium of banks consisting of UniCredit, Commerzbank and LBBW and is expected to close in fourth quarter of 2024.

Vetter to Expand Capacity in the U.S. and Germany (Contract Pharma)

Vetter, a global CDMO, plans to move and expand its Development Services site from Skokie, IL, to Des Plaines, further investing in its U.S. footprint. The company also plans additional major investment in its commercial business in Southwest Germany, to complement its capacity expansions in Ravensburg and Langenargen, which are currently underway. This adds more capacity for future customers as the injectable industry experiences a rise in outsourcing development, manufacturing, assembly and packaging needs to CDMOs.


Bayer slashed 1,500 roles last quarter as CEO’s vision for simpler organization takes shape (Fierce Pharma)

When Bayer unveiled a restructuring in January, the company didn’t provide specifics on the number of planned job cuts. Now, the size of the initial round of layoffs shows CEO Bill Anderson means business. In the first three months of 2024, Bayer reduced more than 1,500 roles, with about two-thirds of them being management positions, Anderson told reporters on a conference call Tuesday. As of the end of March, Bayer had fewer than 98,200 employees, representing a decline of 3.5% year over year.


With 2 planned launches, Boehringer Ingelheim looks to make a name for itself in oncology (Fierce Pharma)

With 25 launches planned through 2030, Boehringer Ingelheim is gearing up for a busy few years. As a part of that, the German drugmaker is looking forward to flexing its oncology muscles with two new cancer drug launches in 2025. While the company’s overall pipeline is filled with early-stage assets acquired through recent business development deals, its oncology R&D efforts are largely centered around the late-stage prospects brigimadlin and zongertinib.


BioNTech pays $25M upfront to strengthen ADC bond with China’s MediLink (Fierce Pharma)

After penning a couple of antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) deals in 2023, BioNTech has returned to MediLink Therapeutics to further pad out its portfolio.

This time, BioNTech is handing over $25 million upfront for the chance to apply MediLink’s solid-tumor-focused TMALIN ADC platform to several undisclosed targets selected by the German biotech. Suzhou, China-based MediLink will also be in line for up to $1.8 billion in milestones.The deal terms mean MediLink retains the right of first negotiation should BioNTech want to collaborate in China on any of the resulting ADC candidates, MediLink explained in a May 26 release.


Bayer’s Lung Cancer Drug Gets Breakthrough Therapy Status in China (Market Watch)

Bayer received breakthrough therapy designation for its experimental lung cancer drug from China’s Center for Drug Evaluation, accelerating its development and potential access for patients. The German pharmaceutical and biotechnology company said on Tuesday that it is currently evaluating its targeted therapy in Phase 1 and 2 trials for the treatment of inoperable or metastatic non-small cell lung cancer with activating HER2 mutations.


Sartorius Expands Drug Discovery and Biomanufacturing Deal with NVIDIA (Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News)

Sartorius reports that it is expanding its multidisciplinary collaboration with NVIDIA to help enable the development of new and better therapies, combining Sartorius’ life sciences and bioprocessing expertise with NVIDIA’s AI-powered computing platforms and software.

“Biological interactions are exceptionally complex. Making better use of data by integrating life science expertise with AI solutions is a promising approach to simplify and accelerate biopharma drug discovery and manufacturing progress. This expanded collaboration with NVIDIA will help result in relevant technological innovations for our customers and ultimately for patients,” says Oscar-Werner Reif, PhD, CTO, Sartorius.