Merck & Co. Acquires Oncolytic Biopharma Company Viralytics for $394 Million

By Akia Thorpe -

February 23, 2018

Merck & Co. has agreed to acquire Viralytics, a Sydney, Australia-headquartered biopharmaceutical company focused on oncology, for $394 million.

On completion of the transaction, Viralytics will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck & Co., and Merck & Co. will gain full rights to Cavatak, Viralytics’ investigational oncolytic immunotherapy. Cavatak is based on Viralytics’ proprietary formulation of an oncolytic virus that Merck & Co. says preferentially infects and kills cancer cells.

Cavatak is being evaluated in multiple Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, both as an intratumoral and intravenous agent, including in combination with Merck’s Keytruda (pembrolizumab), an anti-cancer therapy and one of its top-selling drugs with 2017 sales of $3.8 billion. Under an agreement between Viralytics and a subsidiary of Merck & Co., announced in November 2015, a study is investigating the use of the Cavatak and Keytruda combination in melanoma, prostate, lung, and bladder cancers.

Merck & Co. says the board of directors of Viralytics unanimously recommends that its company’s shareholders vote in favor of the acquisition. Merck & Co. and Viralytics expect the transaction will be implemented by the second quarter of 2018. Implementation of the transaction is subject to a Viralytics’ shareholder vote and customary regulatory approvals.

The transaction has been set for AU $1.75 cash (US $1.37) per Viralytics share. The proposed acquisition values the total issued shares in Viralytics at approximately AU $502 million (US $394 million).

Source: Merck & Co.