Merck (NYSE:MRK) has agreed to acquire the biopharma Acceleron Pharma (NSDQ:XLRN) for $180 per share in cash, bringing the purchase price to roughly $11.5 billion.
The companies expect the deal to close in the fourth quarter of 2021.
Cambridge, Massachusetts–based Acceleron specializes in developing drugs that aim to balance transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta, which plays a role in regulating cell growth and wound healing.
Acceleron’s lead therapeutic candidate, sotatercept, inhibits TGF-beta. The drug could potentially find use for patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The company has a Phase 3 study underway testing sotatercept as an adjunct to standard of care PAH treatment.
“This is a very exciting transaction for us and one that provides Merck with cutting-edge science, and aligns perfectly with the business development strategy we’ve spoken about previously,” said Rob Davis, CEO and president of Merck, in a call with investors. “Acceleron brings us a compelling late-stage asset with strong potential to address the unmet need in a population that suffers from a grievous disease that has a high risk of mortality,” Davis said, referring to sotatercept.
The Kenilworth, New Jersey–based company believes that the Acceleron acquisition provides a potential multi-billion commercial opportunity and could drive long-term revenue into the next decade.
“Sotatercept has the potential to become a foundational agent that can be added to the current standard of care in the treatment of [PAH] disease,” Davis said.
Pulmonary hypertension represents a multibillion-dollar market, and Merck’s growing focus on the treatment area could help it diversify. Currently, the company remains reliant on the continued success of the oncology blockbuster Keytruda (pembrolizumab), which brought in $14 billion last year. The company has also spun off several slower growing assets now owned by the new company Organon.
Acceleron has won FDA approval for Reblozyl (luspatercept-aamt), a novel erythroid maturation recombinant fusion protein, indicated to treat anemia associated with certain rare blood disorders.
In afternoon trading, MRK shares ticked up to 0.61% to $75.55 apiece, while Acceleron’s stock dipped 1.17% to $173.31.
Filed Under: Cardiovascular, clinical trials, Drug Discovery, Oncology