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Eli Lilly acquires ARMO Biosciences; strengthens oncology portfolio

Indianapolis-based pharma giant Eli Lilly (LLY) said it would acquire late-stage immune-oncology company ARMO Biosciences (ARMO) for $1.6 billion, or $50 per share, in a move to bolster its oncology pipeline. Shares of the ARMO shot up 67% in the pre-market session on this news, while Lilly shares were slightly up.

The lead product of ARMO Biosciences is pegilodecakin, a cancer treatment that is currently undergoing Phase 3 trials. The company also boasts of multiple immune-oncology products that are in various stages of clinical pipeline studies.

It’s worth noting that Eli Lilly recently appointed researcher Leena Gandhi to head its immuno-oncology work. Also, the Dave Ricks-led company commented in its first quarter earnings call that it is working on some deals to bolster its cancer pipeline.

Cancer treatment Eli Lilly
Image credit: ARMO Biosciences

ARMO, which went public in January this year, reported its first fiscal year results in early April. For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, the company’s net loss widened to $42.4 million, or $28.52 per share, from $33.6 million, or $26.25 per share, in the previous year. Last month, Eli Lilly lifted its outlook for the year and reported first quarter 2018 results, which surpassed analysts’ estimates.

This all-cash transaction, which is expected to close at end of second quarter, will be reflected in Eli Lilly’s GAAP guidance, while it will not affect the non-GAAP results of the company.

Even though this deal is not as big as this week’s Takeda-Shire transaction, it shows that the big pharma players are looking for potential acquisition opportunities to strengthen their product portfolios.

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