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Spark purchased in multi-billion dollar deal

Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche has entered into an agreement to acquire US biotechnology company Spark Therapeutics for $4.8 billion (AU$ 6.8 b).

The deal represents a major investment from Roche into gene therapy. Spark’s drug Luxturna, which the company claims is the first US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved gene therapy for a genetic disease, can treat inherited retinal disease (IRD) with a single treatment.

A dosage of the drug costs $425,000 (AU$600,000) per eye, but only needs to be applied once for a lifetime of benefits.

The agreement binds Roche to pay a 122% premium on the company’s share price of $114.50 (AU$161.58) and make a tender offer to acquire all outstanding common stock shares of Spark. This will be followed by the filing of the statement containing the unanimous recommendation of Spark’s Board for shareholders to tender their shares to Roche.

“Spark Therapeutics’ proven expertise in the entire gene therapy value chain may offer important new opportunities for the treatment of serious diseases,” Roche CEO Severin Schwan said.

“In particular, Spark’s hemophilia A program could become a new therapeutic option for people living with this disease. We are also excited to continue the investments in Spark’s broad product portfolio and commitment to Philadelphia as a center of excellence.”

Spark will continue operations in Philadelphia as an independent company under the Roche Group. The deal is expected to be fully completed in the second quarter of this year.

“As the only biotechnology company that has successfully commercialised a gene therapy for a genetic disease in the U.S., we have built unmatched competencies in the discovery, development, and delivery of genetic medicines. But the needs of patients and families living with genetic diseases are immediate and vast,” Spark CEO Jeffrey Marrazzo said.

“With its worldwide reach and extensive resources, Roche will help us accelerate the development of more gene therapies for more patients for more diseases and further expedite our vision of a world where no life is limited by genetic diseases."


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