Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE: MRK) is back with another oncology deal. The global pharmaceutical giant has announced it is acquiring OncoImmune for $425 million in cash upfront. OncoImmune is a privately-held, clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that is actively engaged in the discovery and development of novel biopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune disease. OncoImmune recently announced positive top-line findings from a Phase 3 study evaluating its lead therapeutic candidate CD24Fc for the treatment of patients with COVID-19. Under the terms of the agreement, OncoImmune shareholders will also be eligible to receive sales-based payments and payments contingent on the successful achievement of certain regulatory milestones.
Following the close of the deal, OncoImmune will spin out certain rights and assets unrelated to the CD24Fc program to a new entity to be owned by existing shareholders of OncoImmune. Merck will invest $50 million and become a minority shareholder in the new entity.
You might recall just a few weeks ago in early November when Merck purchased VelosBio, a privately held clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company committed to developing first-in-class cancer therapies, for $2.75 billion in cash. VelosBio’s lead investigational candidate, VLS-101, is currently being evaluated in a Phase 1 and a Phase 2 clinical trial for the treatment of patients with hematologic malignancies and solid tumors, respectively. The takeover of VelosBio followed Merck’s dual-collaboration Seattle Genetics (NASDAQ: SGEN) in oncology research, valued at a total $725 million upfront and up to $2.67 billion in milestones between the two collaborations.
Oncology has been a huge focus for M&A in the biotechnology sector, according to search results in our Healthcare Deal Database, as companies hope to meet the demand of the global oncology drug market that is expected to reach $394.24 billion by 2027.