Novartis shares rise amid plans for cancer drug specialist purchase

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In a deal valued at $2.1 billion, Swiss pharma giant Novartis AG will purchase Endocyte, a USA -based biopharmaceutical company developing new treatments for prostate cancer.

Novartis will acquire all outstanding shares of Endocyte for $24 each, representing a premium of 54% to Endocyte's closing price of $15.56 on Wednesday.

Novartis, the Swiss drug maker, has agreed to buy the United States cancer-treatment provider Endocyte, for $US2.1 billion.

The transaction would be in the form of a merger of Endocyte and a newly formed Novartis subsidiary.

Novartis said in September that it will cut 2,550 jobs in Switzerland and Britain over four years, as the it strives to boost profits and focus on new medicines. 177Lu-PSMA-617 is now being investigated in a global Phase III clinical trial in men with mCRPC. Endocyte announced Thursday it would sell itself to Novartis for $2.1 billion in cash.

As part of the restructuring, Endocyte said it was ending patient enrollment in a Phase I trial of its folate receptor-targeted tubulysin solid tumor cancer candidate EC1456 (NCT01999738), but continuing enrolling a "small number" of patients in a Phase I ovarian cancer surgical study of EC1456 (NCT03011320).

"The proposed acquisition of Endocyte builds on our growing capability in radiopharmaceuticals, which is expected to be an increasingly important treatment option for patients and a key growth driver for our business", noted Liz Barrett, chief executive of Novartis Oncology.

The Endocyte pipeline includes additional investigational RLTs, including 225Ac-PSMA-617 in preclinical studies for the treatment of mCRPC.

Radiopharmaceuticals such as Lu-PSMA-617 are innovative medicinal formulations containing radioisotopes that are used clinically for both diagnosis and therapy. Shares in Endocyte were up as much as 51 percent Thursday morning. Novartis plans to fund the acquisition with available cash.

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