Merck to acquire SmartCells

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., and BEVERLY, Mass. (Dec. 2) Merck announced on Thursday it has inked a deal to acquire an insulin maker.

The drug maker said it has entered a definitive agreement to acquire SmartCells, a company developing a glucose responsive insulin formulation for the treatment of diabetes. Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will acquire all outstanding stock of SmartCells. In return, SmartCells shareholders will receive an upfront cash payment and be eligible to receive clinical development and regulatory milestones for products resulting from the transaction for potential aggregate payments in excess of $500 million, Merck said.

"Maintaining control of blood glucose levels represents a daily challenge for people living with diabetes," said Nancy Thornberry, SVP and head of diabetes and obesity franchise at Merck Research Labs. "Through the acquisition of SmartCells we have obtained innovative technology that may enable us to develop glucose-responsive insulins. If this investigational technology is ultimately approved for use with patients, it could provide an important new therapy for the treatment of diabetes. This holds the potential to significantly impact the treatment of this disease."

The acquisition will expand Merck's diabetes portfolio, which currently includes Januvia and Janumet.

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