A little over a week after announcing that it would explore its "strategic alternatives," MGI Pharma announced that Japan's Eisai had agreed to buy the company for $3.9 billion, a 23 percent premium over the December 7 close. For Eisai, which will lose patent protection for its bestselling drug AriceptÂ in 2010, the news marked the latest in a string of oncology deals, including the $325 million acquisition of Morphotek in April. Earlier, Eisai also paid $205 million for four oncology therapies from Ligand Pharmaceutical.
MGI's two biggest sellers are Dacogen and Aloxi. The biotech has 10 development programs underway for everything from preclinical therapeutics to late-stage studies on approved medications. One of the winners in today's announcement: Carl Icahn, who snapped up $17.8 million in MGI shares even as one analyst was downgrading the biotech. For Eisai, it's another big stride into the U.S., where it is building a new research and development center.
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