Otsuka to buy Astex for $886 million

Japan-based drug maker hopes to acquire Astex's drug-discovery technology

TOKYO — Japanese drug maker Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. is buying U.S.-based Astex Pharmaceuticals for $886 million, Otsuka said Thursday.

Astex, based in Dublin, Calif., uses a drug-discovery system known as fragment-based drug discovery, which enables rapid discovery and development of compounds for target proteins implicated in diseases and works by evaluating binding of target proteins with small molecules through 3D structural analysis. Astex developed and launched the chemotherapy drug Dacogen (decitabine), currently sold by Eisai.

"I hope that this acquisition of Astex will strengthen not only our cancer portfolio, but also our drug-discovery research in the central nervous system field, through the acquisition of Astex's fragment-based drug design technology," Otsuka president and representative director Taro Iwamoto said. "Astex's unique fragment-based drug discovery technology and clinical oncology research and development capabilities, born out of the passion of its researchers, exemplify our corporate mottos and believe in 'sozosei' (creativity) and 'jissho' (proof through execution)."

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