AstraZeneca’s Big Drug Deal

AstraZeneca (NYSE:AZN) agreed on Monday to purchase the biotechnology company Ardea Biosciences (NASDAQ:RDEA) for $1.26 billion. Under the terms of the deal, AstraZeneca will offer Ardea’s shareholders $32 for each of their shares in the company. The deal offers a 54 percent premium on Ardea’s closing share price on Friday.

Last week, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) offered $2.6 billion to acquire the biotech company Human Genome Sciences (NASDAQ:HGSI), triggering AstraZeneca’s interest in purchasing Ardea. Human Genome Sciences said the offer did not reflect the value of the company, but is exploring its strategic options, which include the potential sale of the business.

According to AstraZeneca, the acquisition will give the company access to a number of promising drugs. The San Diego-based Ardea is currently developing a treatment for gout, a condition that causes joint inflammation. Gout results in an abnormally high level of uric acid in the blood. The drug Lesinurad is in Phase III development as a potential treatment for the management of hyperuricemia in gout patients.

According to AstraZeneca’s chief executive David R. Brennan, the Phase III program is an excellent opportunity to leverage the European drug maker’s global specialty and primary care sales and marketing capabilities. Ardea has developed Lesinurad along with a promising next-generation gout program, which he considers to have real potential to benefit patients.

According to a company statement, Ardea shareholders, representing roughly 30 percent of the current total shares, have agreed to vote in favor of the transaction. The deal is expected to close by August.