Sanofi Agrees to Acquire Targegen of U.S. to Add Blood Cancer Treatments

Sanofi-Aventis SA, France’s largest drugmaker, agreed to buy closely held TargeGen Inc. to add treatments for certain forms of leukemia and blood disorders.

Sanofi will pay $75 million at the closing of the purchase, which is expected in the third quarter, the Paris-based company said in an e-mailed statement today. Additional payments tied to reaching development goals on TargeGen’s lead product may bring the total purchase price to $560 million, Sanofi said.

The purchase gives Sanofi an experimental treatment for myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder that disrupts the body’s production of blood cells, causing fatigue and an enlargement of the spleen. TargeGen, based in San Diego, completed early-stage patient studies last year of the drug, known as TG101348, and more trials are planned for this year, Sanofi said.

“The acquisition of TargeGen represents a further significant step to increase our engagement in the field of hematological malignancies,” Marc Cluzel, Sanofi’s executive vice president of research and development, said in the statement.

TargeGen’s owners include five investment firms -- Forward Ventures, Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, Chicago Growth Partners, VantagePoint Venture Partners and BB Biotech Ventures.

Enzyme’s Effects

TG101348 aims to block the effects of an enzyme known as Janus kinase 2, Sanofi said. Mutations in the enzyme can lead to myelofibrosis, according to the company.

Sanofi Chief Executive Officer Chris Viehbacher has been acquiring experimental drugs in part because the company’s labs haven’t been bringing new products to market fast enough to offset sales being lost to competition from generic products. Sanofi did two to three acquisitions a month in 2009, and probably will do the same in 2010, he said in February.

With the TargeGen purchase, Sanofi has added about 20 projects to its cancer pipeline in the past year. The company this month bought rights to compounds from Ascenta Therapeutics that may make cancer medicines more effective in a deal worth as much as $398 million. A year ago, Sanofi paid $500 million for BiPar Sciences Inc., developer of a treatment for breast and lung tumors. The BiPar drug has had “stunning” results in a human trial, Viehbacher said this month.

To contact the reporter on this story: Simeon Bennett in Singapore at sbennett9@bloomberg.net; Phil Serafino in Paris at pserafino@bloomberg.net

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