AstraZeneca shells out $500m for US cancer firm to boost pipeline

City A.M. Reporter
ASTRAZENECA took a further step to bolster its pipeline of new cancer drugs on yesterday by agreeing to acquire privately held US biotech company Amplimmune for up to $500m (£321m).

The deal is the second within 24 hours in the cancer drug space, following Amgen much larger acquisition of Onyx Pharmaceuticals for about $10.4bn.

Amplimmune specialises in developing treatments designed to help the immune system fight cancer and the purchase will give AstraZeneca access to a number of compounds currently in pre-clinical development.

While it will not yield commercially viable new medicines for several years, the move fits with the British drugmaker’s strategy of building up its capability in oncology – a key area identified for investment by CEO Pascal Soriot.

AstraZeneca’s MedImmune biotech unit will acquire 100 per cent of Amplimmune’s shares for an initial $225m and a deferred consideration of up to $275m based on reaching predetermined development milestones.

“It will allow us to strengthen our arsenal of potential cancer therapies,” Bahija Jallal, executive vice president of MedImmune, said of the deal.