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Merck Buys Antibiotic Maker in $9.5 Billion Deal

New York Stock Exchange entrance (A. Kotok)

(A. Kotok)

8 December 2014. The pharmaceutical company Merck agreed today to acquire Cubist Pharmaceuticals, a developer of antibiotics, in a deal valued at $9.5 billion. Under the agreement Merck will pay Cubist stockholders $102 a share in cash — the stock closed at about $74 a share on Friday — equaling $8.4 billion, as well as covering some $1.1 billion in Cubist net debt, for a total value of $9.5 billion.

Cubist Pharmaceuticals, in Lexington, Massachusetts, specializes in development of new antibiotics, particularly treatments for infections from bacteria resistant to conventional antibiotics, including those found in health care settings. Cubist’s currently approved drugs include Cubicin for treating Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), as well as treatments for Clostridium difficile, skin and skin structure infections, and aid in recovery fom gastrointestinal surgery.

The company has several new drugs and added applications for current therapies awaiting FDA approval or in intermediate or late-stage clinical trials, focusing on hospital-acquired infections. Pipeline drugs include treatments for urinary tract infections, hospital-acquired and ventilator-associated bacterial pneumonia, Clostridium difficile, and opioid-induced constipation. Cubist also has a beta-lactamase inhibitor, a new class of antibiotic for the company, in early-stage trials designed to prevent beta-lactamase enzymes associated with antibiotic resistance from deactivating antibiotics.

Merck says the Cubist acquisition will help bolster its portfolio of drugs designed for hospitals and acute care facilities. The company notes hospitals now represent about a quarter of all health care spending, and have favorable regulatory and reimbursement trends in the industry. Merck has several new antibiotics in clinical trials, including treatments for Clostridium difficile and a beta-lactamase inhibitor for severe bacterial infections.

Merck expects the Cubist acquisition to add some $1 billion to its revenues in 2015. In 2013, Merck had total annual revenues of about $44 billion, down from $47.3 billion in 2012.

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