Roche to buy U.S. biotech firm Seragon for up to $1.7 billion

Wed Jul 2, 2014 3:47pm EDT
 
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ZURICH (Reuters) - Roche Holding AG ROG.VX said it would pay up to $1.725 billion to buy Seragon Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held U.S. biotech company that researches breast cancer treatments.

Roche has long dominated the field of breast cancer with drugs such as Herceptin and recently won approval for Kadcyla and Perjeta, two treatments for patients whose cancer cells contain increased amounts of the protein known as HER2.

San Diego-based Seragon was spun out from Aragon Pharmaceuticals last year when that company was bought by Johnson & Johnson JNJ.N. Seragon is focused on developing a new generation of oral medicines that it believes offer an improved way of tackling hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, and potentially other cancers.

Its most advanced experimental drug, ARN-810, is currently in initial Phase I clinical trials for breast cancer patients who have not responded to current hormonal agents.

Roche said Seragon's so-called oral selective estrogen receptor degraders, or SERDs, would complement existing research and development programmes in breast cancer under way at the Swiss group's Genentech unit.

The Basel-based drugmaker will pay $725 million in cash and may hand over as much as $1 billion more if Seragon achieves drug development milestones.

HIGH PRICE SEEN AS JUSTIFIED

The price Roche is paying for Seragon looks relatively high for a firm with only one treatment in a Phase I study, but can be justified because Roche is filling a huge gap for future breast cancer treatments with the purchase, analysts at Zuercher Kantonalbank said.   Continued...

 
The logo of Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche is seen outside the Shanghai Roche Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. headquarters in Shanghai May 22, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song