In an effort to bolster an aging cabinet of products, AstraZeneca (AZN) will pay up to $260 million (U.S.), or $12.70 per share to purchase U.S.-based Omthera (OMTH), a maker of specialty pharmaceuticals focused on therapies for abnormalities in blood lipids.
The total price for the deal is estimated at $323 million including Omthera’s cash balances, and represents a 58% premium to OMTH’s initial public offering price of $8 per share. Shares are up over 95% at $13.20 in active early Tuesday morning trading.
The acquisition is the second purchase by AZN in the cardiovascular field, following its purchase of AlphaCore Pharma, an early-state biotechnology company, as the company tries to bolster its cardiovascular-product line-up.
Omthera is a leading fish-oil derived medicine producer, and the move, along with the purchase of AlphaCore, is seen as bolstering AZN’s work in the cardiovascular field.
Omthera’s leading product, Epanova, is derived from fish oil, and has completed final-stage Phase III testing clinical trials and is ready to be sent to the U.S. for regulatory approval sometime later this year.
Epanova will compete against other fish-oil based medicines offered by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which manufactures and markets Lovaza and Vascepa, marketed by Amarin (AMRN). At one point AZN had been linked to a possible purchase of AMRN.
AZN’s top-selling product is Crestor, another cardio-vascular drug, and the company is working on ways to combine Crestor with Epanova. A combination drug, if successful, would push the Crestor patent expiration out to 2016.
The Omthera acquisition is subject to shareholder approval and is expected to close by the end of the 3rd quarter. Shares of AZN are up over 2% in early morning trading.
Written by Marc Bastow, Assistant Editor at InvestorPlace.com. As of this writing he does not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.