Merck to Buy Acceleron Pharma for $11.5 Billion

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Pharmaceutical giant grows its rare disease business by betting on treatments for respiratory and blood diseases

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Businesshala reported on Monday that the companies were close to a deal.

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Shares of Acceleron rose dramatically last week, rising from a closing price of $139.55 on September 20 to $167.65 on September 24.

The crown jewel of Acceleron is an experimental drug for pulmonary arterial hypertension, a disease caused by high pressure in the blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs. The condition leads to low oxygen in the blood.

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Companies including Johnson & Johnson sell pulmonary artery hypertension therapy. Yet Acceleron’s drug, called sotatercept, promises to be the first that not only treats symptoms and slows the disease, but could potentially stop it.

In making the deal, Merck has defeated other potential suitors for Acceleron, including Bristol-Myers Squibb. Co.

, which already owns a substantial stake in the company.

The companies expect the deal to close in the fourth quarter.

Healthcare is typically one of the busiest areas for deals, and other pharmaceutical companies are also pursuing acquisitions as a faster way to gain access to new drugs than developing them in-house over the long term. Baxter International Inc.

Signed a $10.5 billion deal to acquire rival medical-device maker Hill-Rom Holdings in early September Inc.

.

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