Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Merck announced its agreement to purchase the privately held biotech company EyeBio for as much as $3 billion. This move is part of Merck’s strategy to diversify its portfolio of experimental drugs by incorporating treatments for eye diseases.

Under the terms of the deal, Merck will pay $1.3 billion in cash upfront, with an additional $1.7 billion in future milestone-based payments for EyeBio. As part of the acquisition, Merck will gain access to EyeBio’s retinal disease drug Restoret.

This acquisition reflects Merck’s ongoing efforts to reduce its dependence on its blockbuster immunotherapy drug Keytruda, which is anticipated to face competition as its patent protection expires toward the end of the decade.

In February, Merck had announced its intention to pursue acquisitions of up to $15 billion. Recent acquisitions include the $10.8 billion deal for Prometheus Biosciences in 2023 and the purchase of Elanco’s aqua business for $1.3 billion in February of this year.

The acquisition of EyeBio is expected to strengthen Merck’s presence in the eye diseases space, providing diversification ahead of Keytruda’s loss of exclusivity. Restoret, EyeBio’s retinal disease drug, is slated to enter mid- to late-stage trials for the treatment of diabetic macular edema in the second half of 2024. Additionally, it is being evaluated for its efficacy in patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration, a condition affecting over 200 million individuals worldwide.

EyeBio, operating as Eyebiotech Ltd, has operations in the U.S. and the UK. It was founded by SV Health Investors, which is backed by Kate Bingham, the former head of the UK’s COVID-19 vaccine taskforce.

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