Roche to Acquire Santaris Pharma to Expand RNA Portfolio

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In a bid to expand the discovery and development of RNA-targeting medicines, Roche (RHHBY) announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Denmark-based privately-held biopharmaceutical company Santaris Pharma.

Roche will make an upfront cash payment of $250 million to shareholders of Santaris Pharma along with milestone payments of $200 million.

The acquisition is expected to close later in the month. Santaris Pharma’s operations in Denmark will be renamed Roche Innovation Center Copenhagen.

By using its proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid (:LNA) platform and tissue-targeting expertise, Santaris Pharma is developing a diverse pipeline of LNA therapeutics that influence the production or activity of select RNA targets to address diseases which are difficult-to-treat with conventional drug modalities.

Roche expects Santaris Pharma’s next-generation antisense technology and LNA expertise to complement its experience in disease biology, chemistry, drug safety, drug formulation, delivery, and development.

Last month, Roche entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately-held biotechnology company, Seragon Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

The acquisition will provide Roche rights to Seragon’s entire portfolio of investigational next-generation oral selective estrogen receptor degraders (SERDs) for the potential treatment of hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.

Roche is well placed in the oncology market. In particular, Roche is a leader in breast cancer market with its HER2 franchise with strong demand for drugs like Herceptin. The HER2 franchise includes Herceptin along with drugs like Perjeta and Kadcyla.

Apart from providing therapeutic products and services for diverse medical needs, Roche also focuses on innovative diagnostic solutions for the early detection and treatment of diseases.

Roche currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors may consider other large cap pharmas like Allergan (AGN), AstraZeneca (AZN) and Abbott Labs (ABT). While Allergan carries a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), Abbott Labs and AstraZeneca (AZN) carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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