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Merck to acquire Acceleron in a deal worth around $11.5bn

The acquisition of the biopharmaceutical company will complement and strengthen Merck’s cardiovascular pipeline

Merck

Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and biopharma Acceleron Pharma have announced that the companies have agreed that Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire Acceleron for $180 per share in cash for an approximate total equity value of $11.5bn.

Acceleron’s focus is on the research, development and commercialisation of treatments in pulmonary and haematologic diseases with drugs that engage the ‘TGF-beta superfamily’, involved in the body’s ability to regulate cellular growth and repair.

The merger rumours started late last week when it was reported that a large pharma group was close to agreeing a $180 per share bid that would value Acceleron at $11bn. This report suggested BMS – which owns 11.5% of Acceleron's stock – as the most likely bidder, but later reports in US newspaper pointed to Merck/MSD as the mysterious buyer.

Acceleron has one marketed drug, Reblozyl (luspatercept-aamt), approved in the US, EU and Canada for the treatment of anaemia in certain blood disorders. The drug is part of a long-standing global collaboration with Celgene, now part of Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS).

Sales of Reblozyl have been growing since its launch in 2019 – BMS reported $240m in the first half of 2021, with Acceleron claiming its share of $48m.

However, US media is reporting that ‘Acceleron’s crown jewel’ is in fact sotatercept, a first-in-class therapeutic fusion protein that recently produced positive top-line results in the phase 2 PULSAR clinical trial in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

“Strategic business development is a top priority for Merck as we look to drive sustainable growth and further bolster and balance our pipeline with breakthrough science,” said Rob Davis, chief executive officer and president, Merck. “Acceleron’s innovative research has yielded an exciting late-stage candidate that complements and strengthens our growing cardiovascular portfolio and pipeline and holds the potential to build upon Merck’s proud legacy in cardiovascular disease.”

“This agreement with Merck represents the culmination of decades of work by Acceleron researchers successfully leveraging our company’s deep scientific expertise in the biology of the TGF-beta superfamily and driven by an unwavering dedication to delivering life-changing medicines for patients,” said Habib Dable, chief executive officer and president, Acceleron. “We believe Merck is well-positioned to apply its industry-leading clinical and commercial capabilities to harness the potential of sotatercept as we join together to help make an impact on cardiopulmonary disease for the benefit of patients.”

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Merck’s acquisition subsidiary will be merged into Acceleron. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Article by
Iona Everson

1st October 2021

From: Healthcare

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