The Merck logo is seen at a gate to the Merck campus in Rahway, the US. Picture: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID
The Merck logo is seen at a gate to the Merck campus in Rahway, the US. Picture: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID

Merck agreed to buy Acceleron Pharma for about $11.5bn, building out its portfolio of therapies to treat rare diseases. 

Acceleron shareholders will get $180 a share in cash, a 34% premium on the price at the end of August but below the stock’s intraday highs this week. The shares began soaring in mid-September, and Bloomberg reported on September 24 that the company was in advanced sale talks. 

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter. Merck rose 1% in in New York.

Merck is among several companies that have been on the hunt for future blockbuster drugs through acquisitions, including Sanofi, Pfizer, Amgen, Gilead Sciences and Roche Holding. Earlier in 2021 AstraZeneca bought rare-disease specialist Alexion Pharmaceuticals for $39bn as the UK drugmaker pushes into a lucrative new area of medicine. 

“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,” Merck CEO Rob Davis said in the statement. He said Acceleron’s research will strengthen Merck’s growing cardiovascular portfolio and pipeline. 

Acceleron’s pipeline focuses on a particular type of protein that play a central role in the regulation of cell growth, differentiation and repair. The company’s main candidate is a pulmonary arterial hypertension drug called Sotatercept which is in late-stage development. Acceleron’s portfolio also includes Reblozyl, a treatment for anaemia in certain rare blood disorders approved in the US, Europe, Canada and Australia.

Public since 2013, the company’s shares had climbed about 56% in the past 12 months.

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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