Merck eyes Inspire

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — Drug maker Merck is looking to boost its eye care portfolio by acquiring a company focused on developing and commercializing ophthalmic products. The deal carries a cash value of about $430 million.

Merck said Tuesday that through its subsidiary, it will commence a tender offer for all outstanding common stock of Inspire at a price of $5 per share in cash. The offer is a 26% premium to the closing price of Inspire's common stock on April 4, Merck said. Upon the completion of the tender offer, Merck will acquire all remaining shares through a second-step merger.

Inspire's president and CEO, Adrian Adams, said the deal will enhance the company's "long-term potential." The company is known for such products as AzaSite, a bacterial conjunctivitis treatment.

"Merck continues to build upon its long-term commitment to improving therapeutic options for the treatment of eye diseases," said Beverly Lybrand, SVP and general manager of neuroscience and ophthalmology at Merck. "This acquisition combines the talented commercialization organization at Inspire with the excellent team already in place at Merck, thereby strengthening our ophthalmology business and positioning us for future growth with an expanded portfolio. This deal helps address the needs of patients and customers in ophthalmology and creates value for both companies."

The closing of the tender offer will be subject to certain conditions, Merck noted.

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