Merck Strengthens Immunology Pipeline with Acquisition of Prometheus Biosciences, Inc.
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- Published on Monday, 17 April 2023 09:28
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PRA023 is a novel, late-stage candidate for ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and other autoimmune conditions
Prometheus Biosciences’ comprehensive data set enables target discovery and precision medicine approach in inflammation and immunology
RAHWAY, NJ & SAN DIEGO, CA, USA I April 16, 2023 I Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, and Prometheus Biosciences, Inc. (“Prometheus”) (Nasdaq: RXDX) today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement under which Merck, through a subsidiary, has agreed to acquire Prometheus for $200.00 per share in cash for a total equity value of approximately $10.8 billion.
“At Merck, we are committed to delivering on our purpose to save and improve lives and continue to identify and secure opportunities where compelling science and value creation align,” said Robert M. Davis, chairman and chief executive officer, Merck. “The agreement with Prometheus will accelerate our growing presence in immunology where there remains substantial unmet patient need. This transaction adds diversity to our overall portfolio and is an important building block as we strengthen the sustainable innovation engine that will drive our growth well into the next decade.”
Prometheus is a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering a precision medicine approach for the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapeutic and companion diagnostic products for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases. The company’s lead candidate, PRA023, is a humanized monoclonal antibody (mAb) directed to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-like ligand 1A (TL1A), a target associated with both intestinal inflammation and fibrosis.
“Prometheus was established to revolutionize the treatment of immune-mediated diseases through the application of a powerful precision medicine approach,” said Mark McKenna, chairman and chief executive officer of Prometheus Biosciences. “This agreement with Merck, a leader in biopharmaceutical research and development, allows Prometheus to maximize the potential for PRA023, while continuing to apply our technology and expertise to fuel further discoveries to address the needs of patients with immune disorders.”
Prometheus is developing PRA023 for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases including ulcerative colitis (UC), Crohn’s disease (CD), and other autoimmune conditions. In December 2022, the company announced positive results for PRA023 from ARTEMIS-UC, a Phase 2, placebo controlled, study evaluating safety and efficacy in patients with moderate to severely active UC and APOLLO-CD a Phase 2A, open-label, study evaluating safety and efficacy in patients with moderate to severe CD. The findings were recently presented at the 18th Congress of European Crohn’s and Colitis Organisation (ECCO).
“By applying a portfolio of powerful analytic tools to a comprehensive collection of IBD samples, Prometheus identified important disease insights that have now yielded a promising late-stage candidate,” said Dr. Dean Y. Li, president, Merck Research Laboratories. “I look forward to working with the talented Prometheus team to establish a new paradigm of precision treatment for immune diseases.”
Under the terms of the acquisition agreement, Merck, through a subsidiary, will acquire all of the outstanding shares of Prometheus. The acquisition is subject to Prometheus Biosciences shareholder approval. The closing of the proposed transaction will be subject to certain conditions, including the expiration of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary conditions. The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2023.
A copy of the merger agreement pursuant to the transaction will be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and will be publicly available. In addition, Merck and Prometheus will file annual, quarterly and current reports and other information with the SEC, which are available to the public from commercial document-retrieval services and at the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Copies of the documents filed with the SEC by Merck may be obtained at no charge on Merck’s internet website at www.merck.com or by contacting Merck at 126 East Lincoln Avenue P.O. Box 2000, Rahway, NJ 07065 USA, or (908) 740-4000. Copies of the documents filed with the SEC by Prometheus may be obtained at no charge on Prometheus’ internet website at https://www.prometheusbiosciences.com or by contacting Prometheus at 3050 Science Park Road, San Diego, CA 92121 or (646) 241-4400.
Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC acted as financial advisor to Merck in this transaction and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP as its legal advisors. Centerview Partners LLC and Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as financial advisors to Prometheus and Latham & Watkins LLP as the company’s legal advisor.
About inflammatory Bowel Disease
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a term used to collectively describe Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. These conditions are characterized by chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Prolonged inflammation results in damage to the tissues lining the GI tract.Both ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease usually are characterized by diarrhea, rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, fatigue and weight loss.
PRA023 is a humanized monoclonal antibody directed to tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-like ligand 1A (TL1A). PRA023 binds both soluble and membrane associated human TL1A with high affinity and specificity. Prometheus is developing PRA023 for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases including UC, CD, and other autoimmune conditions.
About Prometheus Biosciences
Prometheus Biosciences, Inc. is a clinical-stage biotechnology company pioneering a precision medicine approach for the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapeutic and companion diagnostic products for the treatment of immune-mediated diseases. The company’s precision medicine platform, Prometheus360™, combines proprietary machine learning-based analytical approaches with one of the world’s largest gastrointestinal bioinformatics databases to identify novel therapeutic targets and develop therapeutic candidates to engage those targets.
Merck will hold an investor call on Monday, April 17, at 8:00 a.m. EDT to discuss this proposed acquisition. Journalists who wish to ask questions are requested to contact a member of Merck’s Media Relations team at the conclusion of the call. To listen to the call, please visit https://www.merck.com/investor-relations/events-and-presentations/.
At Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, we are unified around our purpose: We use the power of leading-edge science to save and improve lives around the world. For more than 130 years, we have brought hope to humanity through the development of important medicines and vaccines. We aspire to be the premier research-intensive biopharmaceutical company in the world - and today, we are at the forefront of research to deliver innovative health solutions that advance the prevention and treatment of diseases in people and animals. We foster a diverse and inclusive global workforce and operate responsibly every day to enable a safe, sustainable and healthy future for all people and communities. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.