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MarketScreener Homepage  >  Equities  >  Nyse  >  Merck & Co., Inc.    MRK


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Merck to Buy OncoImmune Amid Covid-19 Vaccine Development

11/23/2020 | 07:00am EST

By Dave Sebastian

Merck & Co. is buying the biopharmaceutical company OncoImmune, which has reported positive results from a late-stage study of a coronavirus therapeutic candidate, for $425 million in cash.

The acquisition is the big drugmaker's latest in its catch-up in the most important vaccine chase in modern history. Earlier Monday, AstraZeneca PLC and the University of Oxford said their Covid-19 vaccine was as much as 90% effective in preventing infections without serious side effects in large clinical trials, and a shot created by Moderna Inc. and one jointly made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE were found to be more than 90% effective in their own late-stage trials.

Under the deal, expected to close by the end of the year, OncoImmune shareholders would be eligible for milestone- and sales-based payments, the companies said Monday. OncoImmune will also spin off an entity involving certain rights and assets unrelated to the vaccine to a new entity owned by existing shareholders before the acquisition, with Merck investing $50 million and becoming a minority shareholder in it, the companies added.

Patients with severe or critical Covid-19 who were treated with a single dose of OncoImmune's vaccine candidate, known as CD24Fc, had a 60% higher probability of improvement than those treated with the placebo, OncoImmune said of its interim analysis of data from 203 participants, or 75% of the planned enrollment in its phase 3 clinical trial. The dose reduced the risk of death or respiratory failure by more than 50%, the Rockville, Md., company added.

Merck, based in Kenilworth, N.J., is a longtime maker of vaccines and antivirals, including human papillomavirus shot Gardasil. The company in September said it had begun testing one of its experimental Covid-19 vaccine candidates in healthy volunteers. It laid out a Covid-19 vaccine program in late May, at a time when several rivals had developed vaccines and begun testing them on healthy volunteers.

For the vaccine, Merck in May said it was acquiring privately held Austrian company Themis Bioscience. The vaccine was developed by the French research nonprofit Institut Pasteur and licensed to Themis. Merck's other coronavirus vaccine effort takes the form of a partnership with the scientific-research organization IAVI, whose experimental vaccine uses the same technology that is the basis for Merck's Ebola Zaire virus vaccine.

Health authorities have eyed vaccines as the antidote needed for the world to begin returning to normal. They are crucial to ensure that enough people are protected against the virus so it can't spread easily, even to those who aren't immune. Some 200 Covid-19 vaccines are in development around the world, according to the World Health Organization, each one promising to protect people from the deadly coronavirus and allow them to go back to work and school. Nearly 50 candidates, based on different technologies, are in clinical trials.

Write to Dave Sebastian at dave.sebastian@wsj.com

Corrections and Amplifications

This article was corrected at 8:21 a.m. ET because it misstated that OncoImmune reported positive results from a late-stage study of a coronavirus vaccine candidate. OncoImmune reported positive results from a late-stage study of a coronavirus therapeutic candidate.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

11-23-20 0659ET

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
ASTRAZENECA PLC 0.44% 7592 Delayed Quote.3.66%
BIONTECH SE -4.02% 101.59 Delayed Quote.24.62%
MERCK & CO., INC. 1.47% 83.38 Delayed Quote.0.45%
MODERNA, INC. -0.05% 129.65 Delayed Quote.24.10%
PFIZER INC. -0.14% 36.7 Delayed Quote.-0.30%
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Financials (USD)
Sales 2020 48 200 M - -
Net income 2020 12 144 M - -
Net Debt 2020 15 159 M - -
P/E ratio 2020 17,6x
Yield 2020 2,94%
Capitalization 211 B 211 B -
EV / Sales 2020 4,69x
EV / Sales 2021 4,32x
Nbr of Employees 71 000
Free-Float 70,7%
Chart MERCK & CO., INC.
Duration : Period :
Merck & Co., Inc. Technical Analysis Chart | MRK | US58933Y1055 | MarketScreener
Technical analysis trends MERCK & CO., INC.
Short TermMid-TermLong Term
Income Statement Evolution
Mean consensus BUY
Number of Analysts 22
Average target price 96,95 $
Last Close Price 83,38 $
Spread / Highest target 28,3%
Spread / Average Target 16,3%
Spread / Lowest Target 1,94%
EPS Revisions
Managers and Directors
Kenneth C. Frazier Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
Robert M. Davis CFO & Executive Vice President-Global Services
Sandy Tremps Vice President-R&D IT CIO
Thomas Henry Glocer Independent Director
Leslie A. Brun Lead Independent Director
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