Merck to purchase hepatitis C drug maker Idenix for $3.85B

Nathan Andrada – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Whitehouse Station, NJ, United States (4E) – Merck agreed to pay $24.50 per share in cash to acquire Idenix Pharmaceuticals, a company currently developing treatment for hepatitis C, according to both companies in a statement released Monday.

The all-cash transaction, which has been approved by the boards of the two companies, is valued at around $3.85bn.

The Cambridge, Mass.-based Idenix employs 85 workers and currently has no products on the market, and has less than $1mn in revenue in 2013. But it is in the process of developing some new drugs against hepatitis C that have caught the attention of major pharmaceutical firms.

Drug companies are on the race to test new and potentially high-selling treatments for hepatitis C. In the U.S., around 3 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C, which has become the country’s leading cause of liver cancer and liver transplants. Around half or more of people are not aware they have been infected.

Merck had been considering to make its own treatment for hepatitis C, but gaining through acquisitions will launch the program substantially, according to Roger Perlmutter, chief of Merck’s research-and-development unit, in an interview Monday.

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