Merck to buy Cubist Pharmaceuticals in US$9.5bn deal


Will add to capabilities in hospital acute care while addressing antibiotic resistance

Drug giant Merck is to purchase Cubist Pharmaceuticals, a US developer of antibiotics, for about US$9.5bn. The deal includes $1.1bn of net debt.

Merck (known as MSD outside the US and Canada) will acquire Cubist and its blockbuster antibiotic Cubicin for $102 a share in cash.

Combining Cubist's expertise in antibiotics with Merck's capabilities and global reach will 'create a stronger position in hospital acute care while addressing critical areas of unmet medical need, such as antibiotic resistance,' said Merck's Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Frazier.

Merck expects the acquisition to add more than $1bn of revenue to its 2015 base.

For more than 20 years, Lexington, MA, US-based Cubist has been committed to global public health through the discovery, development and supply of antibiotics to treat serious and potentially life-threatening infections caused by a broad range of increasingly drug-resistant bacteria.

The company's Cubicin antibiotic is the only approved once-a-day therapy for both S. aureus bacteremia and complicated skin and skin structure infections (cSSSI). It has been used to treat more than two million patients and continues to be an important therapy in the acute care environment.

Merck expects the acquisition to add more than $1bn of revenue to its 2015 base

Cubist’s pipeline of anti-infective medicines also includes Zerbaxa, which is pending approval from the US FDA, will enhance Merck’s hospital acute care business in a variety of therapeutic areas, including Gram-positive and Gram-negative multi-drug resistant infections.

For the first three quarters of 2014 compared with 2013, Merck’s hospital acute care portfolio grew by more than 10%.

Key products in Merck’s hospital acute care portfolio include several antibiotics and antifungals, as well as Bridion (sugammadex), which is marketed outside the US and is currently under regulatory review in the US.

Merck also has several candidates, including actoxumab/bezlotoxumab (MK-3415A), an investigational combination of therapeutic antibodies targeting two C.difficile pathogenic toxins (A and B), which is being evaluated in clinical trials for the prevention of recurrence of C.difficile infection; and relebactam (MK-7655), an investigational class A and C beta-lactamase inhibitor being evaluated in clinical trials for the treatment of severe bacterial infections.

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The companies expect the transaction to close in the first quarter of 2015.