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MSD set to acquire ArQule in deal worth up to $2.7 billion

Published on 10/12/19 at 12:11pm

MSD has revealed its intention to acquire biopharma firm ArQule in a deal worth a potential total of $2.7 billion, valued at $20 per share in cash.

ArQule is a company leveraging kinase inhibitor discovery in the pursuit of new treatments for cancer, among other conditions. The deal means that MSD scoops up the firm’s lead candidate ARQ 531, a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor currently in development at Phase 2 for the treatment of B-cell malignancies. The therapy has already shown anti-tumour activity in patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and Richter’s Transformation, as well as a “manageable” safety profile.

“We are proud that Merck has recognised the contributions that ArQule, together with its scientific collaborators, has made to the field of precision medicine in oncology with ARQ 531 for the treatment of B-cell malignancies and with the rest of our clinical-stage pipeline,” commented ArQule CEO Paolo Pucci. “With this agreement, ArQule’s pipeline will benefit from Merck’s vast capabilities and determined engagement to benefit the patients who we have always strived to serve.”

MSD President Dr Roger M Perlmutter also remarked on the deal: “ArQule’s focus on precision medicine has yielded multiple clinical-stage oral kinase inhibitors that have novel and important properties. This acquisition strengthens Merck’s pipeline with the addition of these strategic assets including, most notably, ARQ 531, a compelling candidate for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.”

MSD will now move to acquire all shares from ArQule through a tender offer initiated by a subsidiary of the company. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of next year.

Matt Fellows

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