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Merck inks up to US$4.5b Seattle Genetics cancer deal

[NEW JERSEY]  Merck plans to take an equity stake and pay as much as US$4.5 billion in a series of deals with Seattle Genetics for two of its cancer drugs.

The pair have worked together before, studying combinations of Seattle Genetics cancer drugs with Merck’s blockbuster medicine, Keytruda.

Now Merck will take a US$1 billion stake in the biotech firm. An investment of 5 million shares to be purchased at US$200 a piece – a 33 per cent premium from Friday’s close – will put Merck among Bothell, Washington-based Seattle Genetics’ top ten holders.

The companies added they would co-develop and sell Seattle Genetics' cancer therapy, ladiratuzumab vedotin. The collaboration will assess ladiratuzumab vedotin in combination with Merck's Keytruda in types of breast cancer and other solid tumours, the companies said in a joint statement.

Merck has been trying to push deeper to expand its cancer portfolio and struck a US$2.7 billion deal with ArQule in December to tap into the drug developer's experimental blood cancer therapy that targets genetic mutations.

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Seattle Genetics is also eligible for additional milestone payments of up to US$2.6 billion.

Separately, Seattle Genetics has also given Merck exclusive licence to sell its cancer therapy Tukysa in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America and other regions outside of the US, Canada and Europe.

The company will receive upfront payment of US$125 million from Merck for the same, with additional milestone payments of up to US$65 million.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

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