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Shire to acquire NPS Pharma for $5.2 billion

It didn’t take long for Shire Plc to get over its breakup with AbbVie Inc.

The Dublin, Ireland, drugmaker on Sunday announced a $5.2 billion all-cash deal to buy NPS Pharmaceuticals. The hookup will expand Shire’s reach into treating rare diseases.

“The acquisition of NPS Pharma is a significant step in advancing Shire’s strategy to become a leading biotechnology company,” Shire chief executive officer Flemming Ornskov said in a news release.

“We look forward to accelerating the growth of the NPS Pharma portfolio based on our proven track record of maximizing value from acquired assets and commercial execution.”

NPS has one drug on the market in the U.S. and Europe: Gattex, which is used to treat short bowel syndrome, a potentially life-threatening chronic condition that prevents patients from absorbing nutrients from food. The drug had sales of $67.9 million for the first nine months of 2014.

NPS is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration for a second drug, Natpara, which is designed to treat a rare condition called hypoparathyroidism, in which the body produces insufficient levels of parathyroid hormone. That hormone plays a key role in controlling the body’s serum calcium and phosphate levels as well as activating vitamin D.

North Chicago-based AbbVie walked away from a $55 billion deal to acquire Shire in October and shift its legal headquarters to the United Kingdom, a move called a corporate inversion that would have significantly reduced the combined company’s income tax liability. U.S. lawmakers put up barriers to make inversions less attractive.

Shire received a breakup fee of $1.64 billion.

Contributing: The Associated Press