British drug major AstraZeneca Plc has made a preliminary approach last month to U.S. peer Gilead Sciences Inc. regarding a potential merger, Bloomberg reported citing people familiar with the matter. The talks are not formal, the report said.
The deal, if successful, would be the largest-ever healthcare merger, creating around $240 billion behemoth, with both companies in the forefront for effective Covid-19 treatment.
Gilead, with a market capitalization of around $96 billion, has received U.S. FDA’s emergency approval for its antiviral remdesivir to treat Covid-19. Astrazenca, with a vast drug portfolio, is also in the lead to make a coronavirus vaccine with its partnership with Oxford University.
As per the report, AstraZeneca, which refused an approach from Pfizer Inc. in 2014, contacted Gilead to express its interest in a possible tie-up, but didn’t specify any deal terms.
Gilead is yet to disclose any of its decision in this regard.
AstraZeneca currently has a licensing agreement to make Covid-19 vaccine from the University of Oxford and recently received more than $1 billion from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority as funding.
In late May, AstraZeneca had signed a clinical & commercial supply agreement with Oxford Biomedica plc for the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccine candidate, AZD1222, which recently entered clinical trials at multiple sites in the UK.
Meanwhile, Gilead’s experimental COVID-19 drug Remdesivir has been shown to shorten the recovery time in some COVID-19 patients in clinical trials. On May 1, the FDA issued emergency use authorization for remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease.
Remdesivir is currently approved in Japan as a treatment for patients with SARS-CoV-2. Outside of Japan, remdesivir is an investigational drug. Gilead is in non-exclusive voluntary licensing agreements with five generic drug makers to manufacture remdesivir for distribution in 127 countries.
Gilead in early June reported encouraging data from Phase 3 SIMPLE Trial with 5-day remdesivir treatment in hospitalized patients with moderate COVID-19 pneumonia.
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