Swiss pharmaceutical group Roche yesterday said it had agreed to pay up to $1.725bn (£1bn) for US biotech firm Seragon Pharmaceuticals, which researches breast cancer.
Roche, which dominates the field of breast cancer drugs such as Herceptin, recently won approval for two new treatments, Kadcyla and Perjeta.
San Diego-based Seragon, which was bought by Johnson & Johnson last year, is developing a new generation of oral medicines that it believes offer an improved way of tackling breast cancer, and potentially other cancers.
Its most advanced experimental drug is currently in initial Phase I clinical trials for breast cancer patients who have not responded to current hormonal agents.
However, if successful, the drug, ARN-810, is not likely to hit the market for between six and eight years.
The Basel-based drugmaker will pay $725m in cash and may hand over as much as $1bn more if Seragon achieves drug development milestones.
Seragon’s technology “could one day redefine the standard of care for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer,” said Richard Scheller, head of research and early development at Roche’s Genentech unit.
Roche’s shares in Zurich closed down yesterday 0.26 per cent at SFr263.50.