J&J makes $1bn deal to take on cancer drug

City A.M. Reporter
JOHNSON & Johnson said yesterday it would pay up to $1bn for Aragon Pharmaceuticals and its experimental drugs for prostate cancer, bolstering J&J’s role in the field after it acquired another experimental prostate-cancer treatment four years ago that has become a leading brand.

New York-listed J&J said Aragon’s lead product, called ARN-509, has potential to help patients whose prostate cancer has not yet spread to other parts of the body, as well as patients whose cancer has spread.

By contrast, J&J’s blockbuster Zytiga treatment, acquired through its $1bn purchase of Cougar Biotechnology in 2009, was approved in 2011 only for patients whose cancer has already spread.

The drugs are both meant for patients who fail to benefit from treatments that block testosterone, the male hormone that fuels prostate cancer, but they work through different means.

The deal does not include development of Aragon’s treatment for breast cancer, which will be spun off into a separate company called Seragon.