The British drug maker AstraZeneca has signed a definitive merger agreement to acquire the US biotechnology firm Ardea Biosciences for $32 per share, which represents a total cash value of approximately $1.26bn, including existing cash.
AstraZeneca will gain possession of Lesinurad – Ardea’s new selective inhibitor that helps regulate uric acid levels in the bloodstream – which is now undergoing late-stage clinical trials. The company will also add to its pipeline RDEA3170, a next-generation selective URAT1 inhibitor that is currently in the first stages of development.
Lesinurad is currently in phase-III development as a potential treatment for chronic hyperuricaemia in patients with gout. AstraZeneca will seek to absorb further development costs of Ardea compounds in its existing R&D programme.
David Brennan, CEO of AstraZeneca, said:
This attractive phase-III programme is an excellent opportunity to leverage AstraZeneca’s global speciality and primary-care sales and marketing capabilities. The Ardea team has done a great job developing Lesinurad along with a promising next-generation gout programme. These compounds have real potential to benefit patients.
Barry Quart, president and CEO of Ardea, said:
We are delighted to be joining AstraZeneca. From our earliest interactions, we were impressed with the quality of AstraZeneca’s people and we are confident their commercial strength and global reach will help realise the full potential of our programmes. The Ardea team and I are committed to helping complete development and working to secure registration for lesinurad.
Both firms have unanimously approved the terms of the agreement. The transaction is expected to close in the second or third quarter of 2012.