Taking a plunge into the cell therapy arena, Gilead Sciences (NSDQ:GILD) said today that it has inked an $11.9 billion deal to acquire Kite Pharma (NSDQ:KITE).
The deal, which was unanimously approved by both companies’ boards, is slated to close in the fourth quarter of this year. Gilead said it plans to pay $180 in cash for each Kite Pharma share – a 29% premium to the company’s price per share at close last week.
Kite’s pipeline consists of cell therapies that use a patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer. The company’s most advanced candidate, a chimeric antigen receptor, could be the first to market as a therapy for refractory aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The treatment is under priority by the FDA.
The regulatory watchdog is scheduled to make a decision about axi-cel by Nov. 29.
“The acquisition of Kite establishes Gilead as a leader in cellular therapy and provides a foundation from which to drive continued innovation for people with advanced cancers,” Gilead president & CEO John Milligan said in prepared remarks. “The field of cell therapy has advanced very quickly, to the point where the science and technology have opened a clear path toward a potential cure for patients. We are greatly impressed with the Kite team and what they have accomplished, and share their belief that cell therapy will be the cornerstone of treating cancer. Our similar cultures and histories of driving rapid innovation in order to bring more effective and safer products to as many patients as possible make this an excellent strategic fit.”
KITE shares were trading at $179.20 apiece in pre-market activity, up 29%.
“From the release of our pivotal data for axi-cel, to our potential approval by the FDA, this is a year of milestones. Each and every accomplishment is a reflection of the talent that is unique to Kite. We are excited that Gilead, one of the most innovative companies in the industry, recognized this value and shares our passion for developing cutting-edge and potentially curative therapies for patients,” Kite’s chairman, president & CEO Dr. Arie Belldegrun added. “CAR-T has the potential to become one of the most powerful anti-cancer agents for hematologic cancers. With Gilead’s expertise and support, we hope to fulfill that potential by rapidly accelerating our robust pipeline and next-generation research and manufacturing technologies for the benefit of patients around the world.”
See the best minds in medtech live at DeviceTalks Boston on Oct. 2.