Merck said Monday that it will, through a subsidiary, initiate a tender offer to acquire all outstanding shares of ArQule for nearly $2.7 billion, or for $20 per share in cash.
ArQule is a publicly traded biopharmaceutical company focused on kinase inhibitor discovery and development for the treatment of patients with cancer and other diseases. ArQule’s lead investigational candidate, ARQ 531, is a novel, oral Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor currently in a Phase 2 dose expansion study for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.
Dr. Roger M. Perlmutter, president, Merck Research Laboratories, said that ArQule’s focus on precision medicine has yielded multiple clinical-stage oral kinase inhibitors that have novel and important properties. He said that this acquisition strengthens Merck’s pipeline with the addition of these strategic assets including, most notably, ARQ 531, a compelling candidate for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.
Merk said in the press release that BTK inhibition has been shown to prevent B-cell receptor signaling that is critical for the survival and proliferation of leukemic cells in many B-cell malignancies. ARQ 531 is a highly selective, reversible inhibitor that blocks both wild-type BTK and the C481S mutant form of the enzyme that is commonly associated with resistance to other BTK inhibitors. In early clinical trials, ARQ 531 demonstrated a manageable safety profile and early signs of anti-tumor activity for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and Richter’s Transformation.
Paolo Pucci, CEO, ArQule said that its pipeline will benefit from Merck’s vast capabilities and determined engagement to benefit the patients who we have always strived to serve.