Merck paying $11.5B for Mass.-based biopharma firm

Merck is buying a Massachusetts-based biopharmaceutical company for approximately $11.5 billion, it announced Thursday.

The Kenilworth-based drug maker said in a news release it is paying $180 per share in cash for Acceleron Pharma Inc., which is working on a potentially first-in-class therapy for pulmonary arterial hypertension.

“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 and President Rob Davis said in a prepared statement. “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.”

In addition to its sotatercept product, which is in Phase 3 trials, Acceleron’s portfolio of products includes Reblozyl, which treats anemia in certain rare blood disorders.

“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,” Acceleron CEO and President Habib Dable said in a statement. “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 agreement, a Merck subsidiary will initiate a tender offer for all outstanding shares of Acceleron. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter, pending customary approvals and conditions.