- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 18, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Biotechnology market leader Amgen Inc. is buying rival Immunex Corp. for $16 billion in stock and cash in a deal that will add a blockbuster arthritis drug and two other best sellers to its already impressive roster of medicines.
The deal announced yesterday would give Amgen of Thousand Oaks, Calif., control of Seattle-based Immunex's rheumatoid arthritis drug, Enbrel.
Immunex's two other big drugs are Leukine, which stimulates infection-fighting white blood cells, and Novantrone, which kills cancer cells and reduces inflammation that contributes to worsening forms of multiple sclerosis.
Amgen makes Epogen, used to treat anemia, and Neupogen, used to reduce infection in chemotherapy patients.
Amgen will pay about $14 billion in stock and about $2 billion in cash, valuing Immunex at about $30 a share. Immunex shares rose yesterday $3.44 to $29.06 on the Nasdaq Stock Market; Amgen shares also rose, gaining $3.46 to $59.49.
American Home Products Corp. of Madison, N.J., owns 41 percent of Immunex's publicly traded stock and has agreed to the Amgen takeover. American Home Products also shares significantly in sales of Enbrel.
The combined market capitalization of both companies is about $72.5 billion. South San Francisco-based Genentech Inc., the second-largest biotechnology company, has a market capitalization of $28 billion.
"This is a compelling strategic transaction and an excellent opportunity for the shareholders, employees and partners of both companies, and we expect it will generate significant benefits for hundreds of thousands of patients around the world," said Kevin Sharer, Amgen's chairman and chief executive officer.
The deal is the latest in a flurry of announced biotechnology mergers.
Two weeks ago, Millennium Pharmaceuticals Inc. announced it would buy COR Therapeutics for $2 billion and MedImmune Inc. said it planned to buy Aviron for $1.3 billion.
Immunex's Enbrel is expected to account for about $750 million in sales this year and could reach $4 billion annually by 2005, said Immunex Chief Executive Edward Fritzky.
Since gaining Food and Drug Administration approval in 1998, Enbrel sales have been hampered by production capacity.

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