Gilead to buy Pharmasset for $11 billion to expand hepatitis C pipeline

Gilead Sciences announced Monday the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire Pharmasset for $137 per share in cash, or approximately $11 billion, to expand its pipeline of oral drugs to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV). The deal represents an 89-percent premium to Pharmasset's closing share price on November 18.

"The acquisition of Pharmasset represents an important and exciting opportunity to accelerate Gilead's effort to change the treatment paradigm for HCV-infected patients by developing all-oral regimens for the treatment of the disease regardless of viral genotype," remarked Gilead CEO John C. Martin. Gilead noted that Pharmasset currently has three compounds in clinical development for hepatitis C, including PSI-7977, which recently advanced into late-stage trials.

The uracil nucleotide analogue is being investigated in an all-oral regimen with ribavirin, and Gilead suggested that if data are positive, the drug could be approved in the US in 2014. Pharmasset's mid-stage compounds include the guanosine nucleotide analogue PSI-938 and the cytidine nucleoside analog mericitabine, which is partnered with Roche. Gilead currently has seven proprietary molecules in clinical development for the treatment of hepatitis C, and the company suggested that Pharmasset’s compounds will be "complementary" to its existing portfolio.

Gilead said that the deal, which is expected to close in the first quarter of 2012, has been unanimously approved by Pharmasset's board. Gilead expects the purchase to be dilutive to earnings through 2014 and accretive in 2015 and beyond.

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