Daiichi Sankyo to acquire US biotechnology company Ambit Biosciences

Leading compound, Quizartinib, will further build oncology pipeline of Daiichi Sankyo

Japanese drugmaker Daiichi Sankyo is to purchase Ambit Biosciences, based in San Diego, CA in the US, in a deal valued at up to US$410m as it looks to build its presence in cancer treatments.

Ambit Biosciences, a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company, develops medicines for treating oncology, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases by inhibiting enzymes that are important drivers for those diseases.

Daiichi Sankyo will acquire all of the outstanding common stock of Ambit Biosciences or $15 a share in cash through a tender offer, or about $315m, and merge it with a subsidiary.

Ambit shareholders will also be eligible for an additional cash payment if certain milestones are reached, which could bring the total transaction to $410m, the companies said.

Daiichi Sankyo is the ideal organisation to take quizartinib to the next stage of development

The company’s leading drug candidate, quizartinib, is currently in Phase III clinical trials among patients with acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), who express a genetic mutation in FLT3. AML patients with the FLT3 mutation tend to have a poorer prognosis than those whose cancers are FLT3 negative.

‘Daiichi Sankyo is the ideal organisation to take quizartinib to the next stage of development, and ultimately, to achieve our goal of making it available as quickly as possible to help as many AML patients as possible,’ said Michael Martino, President and CEO of Ambit Biosciences.

‘The acquisition of Ambit Biosciences further builds our presence in oncology to ensure we are delivering on our goal of providing world-class, innovative pharmaceuticals in core areas of unmet medical need,’ added Daiichi Sankyo President and CEO, Joji Nakayama.

‘Long-term success in oncology depends upon three pillars: fostering development of our in-house molecules, exploring mutually beneficial partnerships and executing strategic purchases, such as Ambit Biosciences, which follows our acquisitions of U3 Pharma and Plexxikon.’ Ambit Biosciences’ board of directors has unanimously approved the acquisition.

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