Novartis (Basel, Switzerland, www.novartis.com) has signed an agreement to acquire Chiron (Emeryville, CA, www.chiron.com) for $5.1 billion, after initially being rejected by the vaccine manufacturer several weeks ago. According to the merger agreement, Novartis will purchase the 58% of Chiron shares that the company doesn’t already own at $45 per share.
"Our plan is to turn around the Chiron vaccines business, which will require investments in R&D and manufacturing to increase quality and capacity, so that we can better meet customer demand and address public health needs. Together with the dynamically growing diagnostics business, vaccines will form a new division, while biopharmaceuticals will be integrated into the existing pharmaceuticals business of Novartis," said Daniel Vasella, chairman and CEO of Novartis.
Novartis will gain Chiron’s blood testing business, which Novartis may use as for future molecular diagnostics development, as well as a portfolio of products for cancer and infectious disease that the company hopes will strengthen its specialty pharmaceutical portfolio and oncology pipeline.As previously reported in Pharmaceutical Technology, Chiron has been plagued with quality problems at its European plants. In July, the company announced that its Marburg, Germany plant in would not be supplying its “Begrivac” influenza vaccine to non-US markets for the 2005–2006 flu season. And the year-long ordeal at the company’s Evans Vaccines “Fluvirin” plant in Liverpool may finally be drawing to an end, though FDA’s approval last month of the first three post-shut-down “Fluvirin” lots does not mean that the vaccines are ready for sale.