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Fusion Pharma (NASDAQ: $FUSN) Soars 97% on AstraZeneca Buyout for $2.4B in Cash 

Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: $FUSN)

 Fusion Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: $FUSN), a Canadian biotech, has been acquired by British-Swedish Biotech giant AstraZeneca (NASDAQ: $AZN) in a $2.4 billion cash deal announced on Tuesday, March 19th, 2024. The deal gives AstraZeneca a foothold in the emerging field of radiopharmaceuticals, which use radioactive isotopes precisely targeted to cancer cells.

It allows AstraZeneca to tap into Fusion’s expertise in developing next-generation “radioconjugates” (RCs) – compounds that deliver potent radiation directly to tumors while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This precision approach could revolutionize cancer treatment by replacing more indiscriminate treatments like chemotherapy.

Radioconjugate Promise and Fusion’s Lead Asset

RCs combine the targeting ability of molecules like antibodies with powerful medical radioisotopes. By seeking out and binding to cancer cells, they can concentrate radiation at the tumor site for enhanced efficacy and fewer side effects compared to traditional radiation therapy.

The crown jewel of the deal is Fusion’s lead program, FPI-2265, currently in Phase 2 trials for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. FPI-2265 targets PSMA, a protein highly expressed in this aggressive cancer type, using the promising alpha particle-emitting isotope actinium-225.

“This acquisition combines Fusion’s expertise and capabilities in radioconjugates with AstraZeneca’s leadership in engineering small molecules and biologics,” said Fusion CEO John Valliant. He added, “It gives us a unique opportunity to accelerate the development of next-generation radioconjugates.”

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Catching Up in a Hot Radiopharmaceutical Market  

The Fusion buyout allows AstraZeneca to play catch-up in a radiopharmaceutical space that has seen a flurry of deals since Novartis’ approved Pluvicto sparked fresh investor enthusiasm in 2021.

Last year, Eli Lilly spent $1.4 billion on Point Biopharma, while Bristol Myers Squibb scooped up Rayzebio for a whopping $4.1 billion. With radiopharmaceuticals expected to keep gaining traction, AstraZeneca is wise to secure a strong position now.

“The deal has solid strategic logic, potentially allowing Astra to combine its existing antibody portfolio with radioconjugate payloads,” a J.P. Morgan analyst noted.

Fusion Pharma’s Pioneering Alpha-Emitting Technology

A key asset that likely attracted AstraZeneca’s interest is Fusion’s proprietary alpha particle radiopharmaceutical platform, and manufacturing capabilities centered around the actinium-225 isotope. 

Alpha particles are a particularly potent form of ionizing radiation that can deliver a concentrated burst of cell-killing energy over a short range. This makes them highly effective against cancer cells while reducing collateral damage to nearby healthy tissues.

However, working with alpha emitters like actinium-225 requires specialized expertise and infrastructure due to their short half-lives and high energy levels. Fusion has invested heavily in developing industry-leading processes for alpha radiochemistry, supply chain logistics and dedicated actinium manufacturing facilities.

By acquiring these critical capabilities, AstraZeneca gains a head start in an emerging radiopharmaceutical field expected to be dominated by alpha and beta-particle-emitting isotopes in the years ahead.

“Expanding on our existing collaboration where we’ve advanced an EGFR-cMet targeted radioconjugate into Phase 1 trials gives us a runway to leverage Fusion’s actinium expertise across our pipeline,” noted Susan Galbraith, AstraZeneca’s Oncology R&D chief.

While actinium supply has been a bottleneck for the field, Fusion’s vertically integrated model controlling isotope production through clinical manufacturing could prove invaluable as AstraZeneca looks to build out its novel radiopharmaceutical portfolio.

Fusion Pharma ($FUSN) And AstraZeneca (AZN) Stock Performance

Fusion Pharmaceuticals’ shares skyrocketed nearly 100% on Tuesday to $20.99, reflecting AstraZeneca’s $21 per share cash offer price. The Biotech giant also dangled a non-transferable contingent value right of $3 per share tied to a future regulatory milestone, bringing the potential total consideration to $24.

The premium offered represents a 97% markup over Fusion’s closing price on Monday and 85% over its 30-day average trading value. With Fusion’s pipeline and manufacturing capabilities now under AstraZeneca’s wing, bullish investors are betting the big pharma can swiftly advance and commercialize promising radioconjugate candidates.

As often happens with most acquisitions, AstraZeneca’s US-listed stock was down 0.33% as of Tuesday, March 19.2024, trading at $65.64 per share. 

Fusion Pharmaceuticals Inc. (FUSN)
Fusion Pharma (NASDAQ: $FUSN)

Should You Buy FUSN Stock in 2024?

AstraZeneca (AZN) and FUSN could be attractive options after the Fusion acquisition closes in Q2 2024 for investors considering a play on the radiopharmaceutical boom. The UK drug maker will gain cutting-edge radioisotope expertise, modern manufacturing facilities and a clinical-stage radioconjugate pipeline headlined by the high-potential prostate cancer therapy FPI-2265.

However, AstraZeneca shares already trade at a premium, and the $2.4 billion Fusion price tag is no drop in the bucket. Much will depend on how quickly the radiopharmaceutical assets can start contributing to the top line and justifying that stiff valuation.

Ultimately, investors who are bullish on next-gen radioconjugate medicines disrupting cancer treatment may want to give AstraZeneca and Fusion Pharma a closer look as early movers in this emerging modality. However, those with shorter time horizons may wish to wait for more pipeline catalysts and commercial validation before pulling the trigger.

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