Otsuka Pharmaceutical to Acquire Astex

Japan’s Otsuka has agreed to purchase cancer specialist, Astex Pharmaceuticals, in a deal which is valued at $886 million.

Otsuka will obtain the remaining shares of Astex for $8.50 per share in cash, signifying a 48% premium to the average closing stock price for the prior 30-day period.

One of the main reasons behind the acquisition is the opportunity for Otsuka to acquire Dacogen (decitabine), which has been approved for myelodysplastic syndromes and was recently approved in Europe for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia in patients over 65.

In terms of pipeline, Astex’s main clinical development candidate is SGI-110, a potential best-in-class subcutaneous hypomethylating agent which is currently being assessed for a variety of haematological and solid tumour oncology indications, including MDS, AML, ovarian and liver cancers.  Astex are also developing AT13387, a second-generation HSP90 inhibitor for the treatment of prostate and lung cancers.

Astex also has five partner-funded programmes that are being developed by Novartis, AstraZeneca and Janssen, and has a clinical development partnership with Cancer Research UK.

Otsuka’s president, Taro Iwamoto, commented that he hopes that “this acquisition of Astex will strengthen not only our cancer portfolio but also our drug discovery research in the central nervous system field.”  Iwamoto added that he is particularly excited about gaining Astex’s fragment-based drug design technology at its Cambridge, UK research headquarters and its California clinical oncology R&D department.


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