Media Moves

Bayer buys gene therapy company for $4 bln

October 26, 2020

Posted by Irina Slav

Pharma giant Bayer will buy U.S. biotech company Asklepios BioPharmaceutical for $4 billion as it forges deeper into gene therapy.

Ludwig Burger reported the news for Reuters:

Bayer BAYGn.DE agreed to acquire unlisted U.S. biotech firm Asklepios BioPharmaceutical Inc for as much as $4 billion in a bet on gene therapy with the help of modified viruses.

Germany’s Bayer will pay $2 billion upfront and up to an additional $2 billion in milestone payments contingent on development achievements, it said on Monday.

Nick Paul Taylor from Fierce Biotech wrote:

Asklepios, known as AskBio, is a veteran of the gene therapy space. Jude Samulski, a pioneer of AAV vectors, founded the company in 2001. Since then, AskBio has built out an AAV platform and associated high-yield cell line and worked with Columbus Venture Partners to establish gene therapy manufacturing capacity, a scarce, valuable resource in the booming industry. The manufacturing site is run by Viralgen, the CDMO AskBio set up with Columbus.

The Wall Street Journal’s Ruth Bender noted:

The German company’s biggest pharmaceutical acquisition since its purchase of domestic rival Schering AG in 2006 is also an attempt to tackle one of a series of challenges that has been plaguing the inventor of aspirin, especially since its 2018 acquisition of U.S.-based Monsanto.

The $63 billion Monsanto deal was meant to give the company another big, fast-growing revenue stream besides pharmaceuticals. Instead, it has saddled Bayer with a protracted legal battle over whether Monsanto’s Roundup weedkillers cause cancer—a dispute that has pummeled Bayer’s share price. Bayer says Roundup is safe.

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