AstraZeneca has agreed to buy ZS Pharma, the US biotech company, for $2.7bn (£1.8bn) in cash, thwarting the ambitions of a Swiss rival in the deal-hungry pharmaceutical sector.
Britain’s second biggest drugs company followed Thursday’s upbeat annual results by announcing a $90 a share deal to snap up ZS Pharma’s technology to develop treatments for hyperkalemia, or high potassium levels. The condition can result in chronic kidney disease or chronic heart failure.
ZS Pharma’s ZS-9 treatment is under review by the US Food and Drug Administration and could produce sales of more than $1bn a year if approved, AstraZeneca said. The tasteless crystals, mixed with water and taken orally, absorb potassium rapidly and flush it out through the digestive system.
Actelion of Switzerland said in September it had started talks with ZS Pharma, based in San Mateo, California, that could have led to a bid. The US company has about 200 employees across three sites in California, Texas and Colorado.
Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s chief executive, said: “Hyperkalemia can be a life-threatening condition for patients with chronic kidney disease and chronic heart failure. However, the risk is underappreciated and prevalence is increasing.
“This acquisition complements our strategic focus on cardiovascular and metabolic disease by adding a potential best in class treatment to our portfolio of innovative medicines.”
The acquisition is part of a deal frenzy sweeping the pharmaceutical sector as companies look to cut costs and buy new treatments to replace ageing drugs whose patents are expiring.
AstraZeneca has made a number of acquisitions to gain specific products and was the subject of a failed £70bn takeover approach by the US company Pfizer last year. Pfizer is in talks with Allergan, the maker of Botox, to form the world’s biggest healthcare business. Dublin-based drug firm Shire has been linked with a number of potential takeovers, including of Radius Health in the US.
This article was written by Sean Farrell, for theguardian.com on Friday 6th November 2015 09.45 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010