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14 December 2020AmericasSarah Morgan

AstraZeneca to buy Alexion for $39bn

AstraZeneca has announced it will acquire Boston-based biopharmaceutical company  Alexion Pharmaceuticals, in what is potentially the biggest life sciences deal of this year.

Announced Saturday, December 12, the deal is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2021 and has been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies.

The deal will provide AstraZeneca with an opportunity to build a stronger presence in immunology. AstraZeneca noted that, in recent times, it has increased its efforts in immunology research and the development of medicines for immune-mediated diseases.

Pascal Soriot, CEO of AstraZeneca, said: "Alexion has established itself as a leader in complement biology, bringing life-changing benefits to patients with rare diseases. This acquisition allows us to enhance our presence in immunology.

“We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues at Alexion so that we can together build on our combined expertise in immunology and precision medicines to drive innovation that delivers life-changing medicines for more patients."

Alexion, which is focused on developing therapies for people living with rare disorders, has “pioneered complement inhibition for a broad spectrum of immune-mediated rare diseases caused by uncontrolled activation of the complement system, a vital part of the immune system”, said the announcement.

Alexion's franchise includes Soliris (eculizumab), a first-in-class anti-complement component 5 (C5) monoclonal antibody.

The Boston-based company achieved revenues of $5 billion in 2019, 21% year-on-year growth.

Ludwig Hantson, CEO of Alexion, said: “This transaction marks the start of an exciting new chapter for Alexion. We bring to AstraZeneca a strong portfolio, innovative rare disease pipeline, a talented global workforce and strong manufacturing capabilities in biologics.

“We remain committed to continuing to serve the patients who rely on our medicines and firmly believe the combined organisation will be well positioned to accelerate innovation and deliver enhanced value for our shareholders, patients and the rare disease communities.”

AstraZeneca intends to establish Boston, Massachusetts as its headquarters for rare diseases.

The announcement added: “The two companies have been on converging paths, AstraZeneca expanding its presence from primary to speciality care, whereas Alexion has been progressing from ultra-orphan to orphan and speciality conditions.”

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