Japanese Pharmaceutical Company Acquires Berkeley-Based Plexxikon

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Japanese pharmaceutical company Daiichi Sankyo announced its $805 million purchase of the Berkeley-based drug discovery company Plexxikon Monday, entering into a merger that will accelerate the larger company's development of cancer medicines.

The acquisition of Plexxikon's drug and research portfolio allows the Tokyo-based company to expand their oncology research in its first partnership with a U.S. pharmaceutical development organization, according to Kimberly Wix, spokesperson for Daiichi Sankyo.

The Plexxikon portfolio consists of pre-clinical studies for polycystic kidney disease, hypertension, Alzheimer's disease and multiple sclerosis, according to a presentation by Daiichi Sankyo CEO Joji Nakayama in Tokyo Tuesday. The Bay Area is well-suited for the company because of San Francisco's strong biotech community, and California's active life-science research, according to the presentation.

Under the merger, Daiichi Sankyo will have co-promotion rights to Plexxikon's most advanced melanoma drug - PLX4032 - which is being jointly developed with Roche, a pharmaceutical company in Switzerland.

According to Wix, the melanoma product was tested on patients with previously untreated metastatic melanoma containing a mutation of the BRAF gene.

Plexxikon spokesperson Susan Kinkead added that in addition to the $805 million purchase, Daiichi Sankyo may be required to pay up to $130 million in potential milestone payments related to the development of the melanoma drug, which will be filed for market Federal Drug Administration approval in the United States and Europe sometime within the year.

Wix said Plexxikon will operate as a unit of Daiichi Sankyo in Berkeley and its 45 employees have been offered positions with the new company.

"We look forward to the expansion and all it brings, including having the option to co-promote the (PLX4032) product with Roche," Wix said.

Contact Jasmine Mausner at [email protected]

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