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Eisai to buy rival in $3.9bn deal

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Japanese drug firm Eisai has agreed to buy US biopharmaceutical company MGI Pharma for $3.9bn in a bid to boost its cancer medication business.

The board of MGI Pharma unanimously approved the deal, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2008.

Eisai president and CEO Haruo Naito said: “Eisai has enormous respect for MGI Pharma’s products, pipeline and people.

“We expect this transaction to allow Eisai to significantly strengthen its oncology business and increase the likelihood of achieving our current strategic plan targets and our future revenue and earnings growth.”

MGI chief executive Lonnie Moulder said the firm, which is based in Bloomington, Minnesota, spoke with “many of the leading companies in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry” before agreeing to the buyout.

Eisai has been trying to expand its product line up and research in cancer treatment because the US patent on its Alzheimer’s disease treatment Aricept (donepezil hydrochloride) is due to expire in 2010.

The deal is Eisai’s third major acquisition in the oncology area in recent years after it bought Morphotek in April, and four cancer drugs from Ligand Pharmaceuticals last year.

Wealthy Japanese drug companies have been on the look out for acquisitions recently, particularly firms with strong antibody and biopharmaceutical technologies, as they try to minimise the impact of expiring patents.

Copyright © PA Business 2007

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