Merck & Co. Acquires Viralytics for $394 Million

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Merck & Co. has acquired oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company Viralytics to strengthen Merck's oncology pipeline.

On Feb. 21, 2018, Merck & Co. announced that it has acquired Viralytics, an oncology-focused biopharmaceutical company based in Sydney, Austrailia for $394 million.

The transaction has been set for AUD$1.75 cash (US$1.37) per Viralytics share. Merck reports that the proposed acquisition values the total issued shares in Viralytics at approximately AUD$502 million (US$394 million).

Upon completion of the transaction, Viralytics will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck, and Merck will gain full rights to Cavatak (is there an active ingredient name?), Viralytics’ investigational oncolytic immunotherapy, as stated by Merck. Cavatak is based on Viralytics’ proprietary formulation of an oncolytic virus that Merck says preferentially infects and terminates cancer cells. The drug is being evaluated in multiple Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, as both an intratumoral and intravenous agent, including in combination with Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab), an immunotherapy blockbuster drug with 2017 sales of $3.8 billion.

In accordance with an agreement between Viralytics and a subsidiary of Merck, announced in November 2015, the companies are investigating the use of the Cavatak and Keytruda combination in melanoma, prostate, lung, and bladder cancers, according to Merck.


Merck reports that the board of directors of Viralytics unanimously recommends that its company’s shareholders vote in favor of the acquisition. The companies expect the transaction will be implemented by the second quarter of 2018, subject to a Viralytics’ shareholder vote and customary regulatory approvals.

“Viralytics’s approach of engaging the innate immune system to target and kill cancer cells complements our immuno-oncology strategy, which is focused on the rapid advancement of innovative monotherapy approaches and synergistic combinations to help the broadest range of cancer patients,” said Dr. Roy Baynes, senior vice president and head of global clinical development, chief medical officer, Merck Research Laboratories, in a company press release. “We are eager to further build on Viralytics’s science as we continue our efforts to harness the immune system to improve long-term disease control and survival outcomes for people with cancer.”

Source: Merck & Co.