Gilead Sciences, Inc. and Pharmasset, Inc. announced that the companies have signed a definitive agreement under which Gilead will acquire Pharmasset for $137 per share in cash. The transaction, which values Pharmasset at approximately $11 billion, was unanimously approved by Pharmasset’s Board of Directors. Gilead plans to finance the transaction with cash on hand, bank debt and senior unsecured notes. The company expects the transaction, when completed, to be dilutive to Gilead’s earnings through 2014 and accretive in 2015 and beyond. Further guidance will be provided when the transaction closes, which is expected to be in the first quarter of 2012.
Pharmasset currently has three clinical-stage product candidates for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) advancing in trials in various populations. The company’s lead product candidate, PSI-7977, an unpartnered uracil nucleotide analog, has recently been advanced into two Phase 3 studies in genotype 2 and 3 patients. Both studies will utilize 12 weeks of treatment with PSI-7977 in combination with ribavirin. One study will compare this all-oral regimen against 24 weeks of the standard-of-care pegylated interferon/ribavirin in treatment-naïve patients, and the second study will compare the all-oral regimen to placebo in interferon-intolerant/ineligible patients. A third Phase 3 study in genotype 1 patients will be initiated in the second half of 2012, the design of which is dependent on the outcome of Phase 2 studies which are evaluating PSI-7977 in various combinations in genotype 1-infected patients. If successful, this strategy could lead to an initial U.S. regulatory approval of PSI-7977 in 2014. PSI-938, an unpartnered guanosine nucleotide analog, is being tested in a Phase 2b interferon-free trial as monotherapy and in combination with PSI-7977 in subjects with HCV of all viral genotypes. Mericitabine (RG7128), a cytidine nucleoside analog, is partnered with Roche and is being evaluated in three Phase 2b trials. Roche is responsible for all aspects of the development of mericitabine.
“The acquisition of Pharmasset represents an important and exciting opportunity to accelerate Gilead’s effort to change the treatment paradigm for HCV-infected patients by developing all-oral regimens for the treatment of the disease regardless of viral genotype,” said John C. Martin, PhD, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gilead. “Pharmasset presented compelling Phase 2 data earlier this month further characterizing the strong efficacy and safety profile of PSI-7977. The compound, together with Pharmasset’s other pipeline candidates, represents a strong strategic fit with Gilead’s vision, pipeline and capabilities. This transaction will serve to drive the long-term growth of our business, and we look forward to working closely with the Pharmasset team to advance a broad clinical program in HCV to address the unmet needs of patients and the medical community.”