AbbVie to pay $21 billion for maker of blood cancer treatments

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Abbvie Inc. plans to buy Pharmacyclics to speed up its move into making treatments for blood cancers.

The North Chicago biopharmaceutical company late Wednesday said it has agreed to a cash-and-stock deal worth about $21 billion.

Pharmacyclics, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., is the maker of Imbruvica, a treatment for blood cancer, a market estimated at $24 billion worldwide.

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“The acquisition of Pharmacyclics is a strategically compelling opportunity. The addition of Pharmacyclics’ talented and innovative team will add enormous value to AbbVie,” chairman and chief executive Richard A. Gonzalez, said in a statement.

“Its flagship product, Imbruvica, is not only complementary to AbbVie’s oncology pipeline, it has demonstrated strong clinical efficacy across a broad range of hematologic malignancies and raised the standard of care for patients.”

The boards of both companies have approved the deal.

Earlier Wednesday, Pharmacyclics was reported to be close to a deal to be acquired by Johnson & Johnson. The Financial Times said J&J was expected to pay more than Pharmacyclics’ $17 billion market value, making it the largest biopharmaceutical deal this year.

At $21 billion, the AbbVie-Pharmacyclics deal is bigger than Pfizer’s $17 billion takeover of Lake Forest-based Hospira. Two other big pharmaceutical takeovers this year are Valeant’s $14.5 billion deal for Salix and Shire’s $5.2 billion purchase of NPS Pharma.

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