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Novartis to buy German biotech MorphoSys for $2.9 billion

Novartis said late Monday it has agreed to buy German biotech MorphoSys and its pipeline of cancer drugs for 2.7 billion euros, or $2.9 billion. The Swiss drugmaker will pay 68 euros, or around $73, per share, nearly twice Morphosys’s average trading price over the last month.

At the center of the deal is pelabresib, a blood cancer pill that in November posted mixed results in a Phase 3 trial.

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The drug hit the primary endpoint, significantly reducing spleen volume in patients with a rare cancer called myelofibrosis compared to placebo. But the drug failed to make a significant impact on symptoms — 52% of patients on pelabresib saw their scores on a symptom scale fall by half, but so did 46% of patients on placebo. The result raised questions about whether regulators would approve the drug and if it had a commercial market.

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