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Gilead hungers for more cancer drug deals

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Gilead Sciences ($GILD) waves an active trigger finger for acquisitions. After loading up on cancer drugs through a number of deals in recent years, the biopharma powerhouse is looking for new targets, Bloomberg reported. And Gilead's interest in blood-cancer drugs sparked some speculation about a couple of likely buyout prospects.

As the news service reported, Gilead has ponied up $1.2 billion in two years to pick up cancer drugs. All those deals involved development-stage candidates from the buyouts of such firms as YM BioSciences and Calistoga Pharmaceuticals. Gilead, which has no marketed cancer drugs and makes most of its revenue from HIV meds, has invested heavily in research of cancer drugs in search of a future revenue stream from the big oncology market.

"Oncology is entering an era where significant advances are going to be made, far above and beyond what's been made previously," John Milligan, Gilead's operations chief, told Bloomberg. "It's a field where there's always the possibility of acquiring other molecules and companies as their technology or pipelines mature. We're certainly keeping our eye on it."

What cancer drug outfit might Gilead look to buy next? Milligan wouldn't say, of course. But Raghuram Selvaraju of Aegis Capital took a shot, saying that possible targets could include Ariad Pharmaceuticals ($ARIA) and Infinity Pharmaceuticals ($INFI). In December Ariad won FDA approval for Iclusig (ponatinib) for certain cases of chronic myeloid leukemia, and boasts a market cap of $3.34 billion that reflects the big expectations for the drug.  

With no approved drugs, Infinity might be more akin to previous companies that Gilead scooped up. It's all just speculation right now, however.

Yet Gilead has the deep pockets and the track record in HIV to compete in the market for blood cancer drugs. And the Foster City, CA-based company could certainly pull the trigger on more sizable oncology buyouts.  

- check out Bloomberg's article

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