Chicago-based AbbVie announced late Wednesday that it plans to acquire California biopharmaceutical company Pharmacyclics in a deal valued at $21 billion.
Hours before this announcement, Reuters reported that Johnson & Johnson was close to closing the Pharmacyclics deal, for an estimated value of $17.5 billion.
Pharmacyclics developed Imbruvica, which is approved to treat two different types of blood cancer. Sales of Imbruvica are projected to reach $1 billion this year.
Johnson and Johnson's interest in Pharmacyclics was logical, considering J&J signed a partnership with Pharmacyclics prior to Imbruvica's approval. As such, AbbVie is essentially only buying half of Imbruvica because J&J receives 50 percent of the drug's revenue.
The FDA initially granted Imbruvica accelerated approval in November 2013 for use in patients with mantle cell lymphoma who received one prior therapy. In February 2014, the FDA granted accelerated approval to Imbruvica for use in patients with previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and then in July 2014, expanded its use to include treatment of CLL patients who carry a deletion in chromosome 17. Last month, the FDA expanded the approved use of Imbruvica for patients with Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, a rare form of cancer that begins in the body’s immune system.
Read the Chicago Tribune press release