Gilead Science has agreed to pay almost $12 bilion for Kite Pharma Inc, Santa Monica-based company specialized in developing treatments that are custom-made to target a patient’s cancer.
The acquistion will allow Gilead to diversify its portfolio as it is seeking to fill a gap left by declining sales of hepatitis C medicines.
The CAR-T, in whcih Kite is focusing on, is a therapy that involves removing immune cells from a patients’ blood, reprogramming them to create an army of cells that can zero in on and destroy cancer cells and injecting them back into the patient.
The president and CEO John F. Milligan said in a statement: “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. 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”.
Among Kite’s most-anticipated new treatments is a drug for non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which is awaiting for FDA approval.
As reported by ABC news, Kite’s main drug, known as axi-cel, is up for approval in the U.S. and Europe. Analysts predict it would have world-wide sales of $1.7 billion in 2022, according to EvaluatePharma, which ranks the drug among the industry’s top 10 compounds in terms of sales potential. Such expectations have already pushed the company’s shares sharply higher this year.
Axi-cel is likely to face steep competition, from Novartis AG, for example, one of the leading cancer-drug makers, that has beaten Kite to be the first company to ask the Food and Drug Administration to approve a bioengineered T-cell drug. Several other companies are developing the drugs too.
The deal has been approved by both companies’ boards and is expected to close in the fourth quarter.