AstraZeneca is in advanced talks to buy Acerta for $5 billion

AstraZeneca

British drugmaker AstraZeneca is in advanced talks to buy privately held cancer drug developer Acerta Pharma BV for more than $5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Acerta, based in the Netherlands, is developing cancer drugs that allow the body’s own defenses to fight back against the disease.

The acquisition was revealed just four days after Acerta announced that 95% of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia positively responded to its experimental drug acalabrutinib.

AstraZeneca declined to comment on the WSJ report on Friday.

AstraZeneca has been looking for a strong acquisition ever since sales of its own top selling drugs began to falter.

A new lung cancer pill from AstraZeneca was approved last month for patients whose disease worsened after treatment with other therapies. The company says sales of the drug, Tagrisso, should reach at least $3 billion.

AstraZeneca’s also recently launched the drug Lynparza for ovarian cancer, taking the company closer to its goal of bringing six new cancer treatments to market by 2020.

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In November, ZS Pharma was announced as the company’s next acquisition target at a cost of $2.7 billion. ZS Pharma is a biotech firm which uses technology to develop novel treatments for hyperkalaemia, or high potassium levels