07 January 2019 16:38 585

Lilly to buy Loxo Oncology in $8 billion cancer push

Eli Lilly and Co. said on Monday it would buy Loxo Oncology Inc. for about $8 billion in cash, buying into a portfolio of targeted medicines to treat cancers caused by rare gene mutations.

Lilly to buy Loxo Oncology in $8 billion cancer push

The logo and ticker for Eli Lilly and Co. are displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Eli Lilly and Co. said on Monday it would buy Loxo Oncology Inc. for about $8 billion in cash, buying into a portfolio of targeted medicines to treat cancers caused by rare gene mutations.

The deal marks Lilly’s biggest push in the fast-growing cancer therapy market and adds to an explosive start to the year for healthcare M&A.

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. agreed to buy Celgene Corp. for about $74 billion on Thursday, combining two of the world’s largest cancer drug businesses. The deal also raised hopes of a wave of consolidation in the sector.

Loxo’s portfolio is centered around its first commercial medicine, Vitrakvi, which was shown to be effective against a wide variety of cancers caused by a single, rare genetic mutation. The drug is sold in partnership with Bayer AG.

Loxo is also developing a drug that targets a rare gene fusion mutation known as RET, seen in thyroid, lung and other cancers.

Lilly’s oncology portfolio includes lung cancer drug Alimta, Erbitux, a treatment for certain types of colorectal cancers, and gastric cancer medicine Cyramza.

In May, Lilly said it would buy Armo Biosciences Inc for $1.6 billion to expand its portfolio of drugs that helps the body’s immune system fight cancer.

Lilly Chief Financial Officer Joshua Smiley told Reuters in November the company was looking to make similar acquisitions using $4 billion the company amassed as part of its divestiture of animal health unit Elanco.

Lilly’s offer of $235 per share in cash represents a premium of about 68 percent to Loxo’s Friday close. Loxo’s shares jumped to $230 before the bell, while those of Lilly dropped 2.7 percent to $111.60.

Loxo’s shares have run up nearly 65 percent over the past 12 months, while Lilly’s stock has surged 34 percent in the same time.

Deutsche Bank is Lilly’s financial adviser and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is its legal adviser. Goldman Sachs & Co LLC is the financial adviser, while Fenwick & West LLP is legal adviser to Loxo.

Reuters.com

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