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Merck to Acquire Acceleron Pharma Inc

  • Acquisition Complements and Strengthens Mercks Cardiovascular Pipeline.
  • Sotatercept is a Potentially First-In-Class Therapy in Phase 3 Development for the Treatment of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.
  • REBLOZYL (luspatercept-aamt) is a First-In-Class Erythroid Maturation Recombinant Fusion Protein Approved for the Treatment of Anemia in Certain Rare Blood Disorders.

Merck, known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Acceleron Pharma Inc, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company, today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire Acceleron for $180 per share in cash for an approximate total equity value of $11.5 billion.

Acceleron is focused on harnessing the power of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta superfamily of proteins that is known to play a central role in the regulation of cell growth, differentiation and repair. Acceleron’s lead therapeutic candidate, sotatercept, has a novel mechanism of action with the potential to improve short-term and/or long-term clinical outcomes in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a progressive and life-threatening blood vessel disorder. Sotatercept is in Phase 3 trials as add-on to current standard of care for the treatment of PAH.

“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,” said Rob Davis, chief executive officer and president, Merck. “Acceleron’s innovative research has yielded an exciting late-stage candidate that complements and strengthens our growing cardiovascular portfolio and pipeline and holds the potential to build upon Merck’s proud legacy in cardiovascular disease.”

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In addition to sotatercept, Acceleron’s portfolio includes REBLOZYL (luspatercept-aamt), a first-in-class erythroid maturation recombinant fusion protein approved in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia for the treatment of anemia in certain rare blood disorders. REBLOZYL is being developed and commercialized through a global collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb.

“This agreement with Merck represents the culmination of decades of work by Acceleron researchers successfully leveraging our company’s deep scientific expertise in the biology of the TGF-beta superfamily and driven by an unwavering dedication to delivering life-changing medicines for patients,” said Habib Dable, chief executive officer and president, Acceleron. “We believe Merck is well-positioned to apply its industry-leading clinical and commercial capabilities to harness the potential of sotatercept as we join together to help make an impact on cardiopulmonary disease for the benefit of patients.”

Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of Acceleron. The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, including the tender of shares representing at least a majority of the total number of Acceleron’s outstanding shares, receipt of applicable regulatory approvals, and other customary conditions. Upon the successful completion of the tender offer, Merck’s acquisition subsidiary will be merged into Acceleron, and any remaining shares of common stock of Acceleron will be canceled and converted into the right to receive the same $180 per share price payable in the tender offer. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021

About Sotatercept
Sotatercept is an investigational reverse-remodeling agent proposed to rebalance TGF-beta superfamily signaling. In preclinical models of PAH, sotatercept reversed pulmonary arterial wall and right ventricular remodeling that are hallmarks of the disease. A Phase 2 trial (PULSAR) evaluating sotatercept in combination with approved PAH-specific medicines in patients with PAH met its primary endpoint of improvement in pulmonary vascular resistance. The study results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Sotatercept is being studied in multiple Phase 3 trials for the treatment of certain patients with PAH as well as a Phase 2 trial in patients with combined post- and pre-capillary pulmonary hypertension in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted Orphan Drug and Breakthrough Therapy designations and the European Commission and European Medicines Agency (EMA) have granted Orphan and Priority Medicines (PRIME) designations, respectively, for sotatercept for the treatment of PAH.

Acceleron’s REBLOZYL (luspatercept-aamt) is the first and only erythroid maturation agent approved in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia for the treatment of anemia in certain rare blood disorders. REBLOZYL is being developed as part of a global collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb. Ongoing Phase 3 trials are evaluating luspatercept for the treatment of anemia in patient populations of myelodysplastic syndromes, beta-thalassemia, and myelofibrosis.

Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as financial advisors to Merck in this transaction and Covington & Burling LLP and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP as its legal advisors. Centerview Partners LLC and J.P. Morgan Securities LLC were financial advisors to Acceleron and Ropes & Gray LLP its legal advisor.

Source: Merck & Co.
Date: Sep 30, 2021

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