AstraZeneca to Buy Out ‘World’s Most Expensive Drug’ Maker Alexion for $39bn

The boards of the two companies agreed on an offer of $60 in cash and $115 in AstraZeneca shares for each Alexion share – almost half again the market value for the firm, which makes Soliris, reputedly the world’s most expensive therapy.

UK pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca has agreed a $39 billion cash-and-equity buy-out offer with shareholders in US speciality treatments firm Alexion – maker of the world’s most expensive drug.

The British firm, currently struggling to get its coronavirus vaccine approved, will pay $60 in cash and about $115 worth of its shares for each Alexion share either in London-traded ordinary shares or in dollar-denominated American Depositary Shares.

That would work out to about $175 per Alexion share, almost 50 percent above the $121 market price at the close of business on Friday. AstraZeneca said both firms’ boards had approved the deal.

“This acquisition allows us to enhance our presence in immunology”, AstraZeneca Chief Executive Pascal Soriot said in a statement. “Alexion has established itself as a leader in complement biology, bringing life-changing benefits to patients with rare diseases.”

Alexion, founded in 1992 by Steven Squinto and current Chairman Leonard Bell, specialises in developing drugs for rare conditions. Its best-known product is Soliris, used to treat the autoimmune diseases paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), and neuromyelitis optica.

At almost £400,000 (€430,000) per year per patient, Soliris is reported to be the world’s most expensive drug – despite insufficient clinical evidence to show it improves life expectancy in PNH patients.

Alexion’s share price has fallen gradually over the last five years as the firm has failed to come up with new product lines to follow Soliris.

Hedge fund Elliott Management publicly urged Alexion to sell out a day before the drug company’s annual shareholders’ meeting in May. Elliott had already raised concerns over Alexion CEO Ludwig Hantson’s management in private meetings before then.


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