AstraZeneca Agrees to Buy 55 Percent of Acerta Pharma

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December 17, 2015.

AstraZeneca (AZ) has agreed to buy 55 percent stake of privately held biotech firm Acerta Pharma for $4 billion to give it access to acalabrutinib, a drug for fighting blood cancers, UK Reuters reports.   AZ will pay $2.5 billion upfront, with a further $1.5 billion paid either on receipt of the first regulatory approval for acalabrutinib or at the end of 2018, depending on which comes first. The drugmaker believes the new medicine, now in final-stage testing and expected to be submitted for regulatory approval in the second half of 2016, could sell more than $5 billion a year.   Acerta shareholders will have the option to sell the remaining 45 percent of shares in the biotech company to AZ for approximately $3 billion, once acalabrutinib has been approved in both the US and Europe.