AstraZeneca to Buy Omthera Pharma for $323 Million

AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) agreed to pay about $323 million for Omthera Pharmaceuticals Inc. (OMTH), a U.S. developer of treatments for abnormal levels of fats in the bloodstream, as the U.K. company’s best-selling drug faces competition.

AstraZeneca will pay $12.70 a share for Omthera, or 88 percent more than the $6.77 closing price on May 24, it said today in a statement. Omthera shares doubled in New York.

The London-based maker of the Crestor cholesterol-lowering pill will gain Princeton, New Jersey-based Omthera’s experimental treatment for patients with high levels of triglycerides, which like cholesterol can contribute to heart attack and stroke. Crestor, AstraZeneca’s best-selling medicine with $6.25 billion in 2012 revenue, will face generic competition in the U.S. starting in 2016. Crestor sales have been declining since cheaper copies of Pfizer Inc. (PFE)’s Lipitor cholesterol drug became available in 2011.

AstraZeneca plans to seek approval to sell Omthera’s Epanova “as soon as possible” as a single therapy and in combination with Crestor. Epanova is a capsule containing a mixture of polyunsaturated-free fatty acids derived from fish oils. The product would compete with GlaxoSmithKline Plc’s (GSK) Lovaza and Amarin Corp.’s (AMRN) Vascepa, which also are used in patients with high triglyceride levels.

In addition to the $12.70 cash payment, each Omthera shareholder will receive about $4.70 in contingent value rights if certain development goals are met. That would bring the total value of the deal to about $443 million, including Omthera’s $63 million in cash balances, AstraZeneca said.

Omthera, which had its initial public offering on April 11, doubled to $13.51 at the close in New York. AstraZeneca shares advanced 2.7 percent to close at 3,521.50 pence in London trading.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristen Hallam in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Phil Serafino at

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