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Actelion confirms takeover talks with ZS Pharma

Published on 11/09/15 at 08:57am

Swiss drugmaker Actelion has entered discussions with US biotech company ZS Pharma, over a takeover thought to be worth $2.5 billion.

Both companies issued statements on Thursday playing down the likelihood of an imminent deal, with Actelion calling the talks “preliminary,” while ZS Pharma said it “regularly and routinely explores opportunities with various strategic partners and will continue to do so," and that the discussions “may or may not lead to any transaction."

Actelion, itself the subject of a $12 billion bid from Shire in June, is a leader in treatments for pulmonary hypertension, and it appears the company is seeking new revenue streams with the looming patent expiry of its Tracleer blockbuster in November, although sales of its lung disease drug Opsumit are growing. Actelion is understood to be weighing up several potential acquisitions in addition to ZS.

California-based ZS Pharma was founded in 2008 and only began trading in June 2014. It has been boosted by several successful funding rounds aimed at accelerating development of its lead candidate, ZS-9, a treatment for the life-threatening condition hyperalkemia- which causes potassium build-up in the body that can lead to heart failure.

The company filed a marketing application for ZS-9 with the US FDA in May, with a ruling expected in May 2016.

Joel Levy

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