Gilead Sciences announced it will acquire Pharmasset, the Princeton-based pharmaceutical company, for $11 billion in a move that one industry watcher expects will add jobs in New Jersey.
Pharmasset is developing potential treatments for hepatitis C, a viral infection that often has no symptoms and can lead to life-threatening liver damage. As the disease can take years to manifest, analysts expect a spike in cases due to the aging of baby boomers who might have acquired the disease through shared needles while using intravenous drugs in their younger days.
Pharmasset has started late-stage clinical testing of an experimental hepatitis C drug, and plans to start two other late-stage trials in 2012, hoping to file for marketing approval in the United States and European Union in 2013.
“We are excited to join together with Gilead, which shares our commitment to providing HCV patients with new, highly efficacious and safe oral therapies,” said Schaefer Price, president and CEO of Pharmasset. “Gilead’s established expertise and leadership in the field of antiviral drug development and commercialization, coupled with the company’s existing portfolio of promising compounds for HCV, make this partnership an ideal step to fully realize the potential of our promising molecules as part of future all-oral combination therapies for millions of patients in need around the world.î
Gilead, a biopharmaceutical company in Foster City, Calif., will pay $137 per share in cash for each Pharmasset share. That, said David Finegold, senior vice president for lifelong learning and strategic growth at Rutgers University, sets this deal apart, as it’s a change from more recent consolidations of pharmaceutical companies in the state.
“The other mergers were consolidations that laid off employees and saved several billion dollars in costs,” Finegold said. “In this case, I would be surprised if Pharmasset laid anybody off. The company is getting a huge infusion of cash. I hope this is a net positive for jobs in New Jersey.”