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GEN News Highlights : Oct 31, 2006

Merck & Co. Shells Out $1.1B for Sirna

Merck expects company’s RNAi-based therapeutics will complement its research.

Merck & Co. will acquire Sirna Therapeutics for a cash value of approximately $1.1 billion. At $13 per share, this amount is more than double Sirna’s closing price of $6.45 on October 30, 2006. Sirna is currently trading at $12.7 per share.
"This is another example of Merck delivering on its strategy of aggressively pursuing biotechnology companies that complement our considerable internal research capabilities," remarks Richard N. Kender, vp of business development and corporate licensing.

Sirna creates RNAi-based therapeutics. Its lead clinical development candidate, Sirna-027, is a chemically optimized, siRNA currently moving into Phase II development for the treatment of the wet-form of age-related macular degeneration as part of a broad collaboration with Allergan. The company also has an alliance with GlaxoSmithKline for the development of siRNA compounds for the treatment of respiratory diseases. In addition, Sirna has several programs covering a range of therapeutic areas, including infectious diseases, metabolism, CNS, and dermatology.

Merck and Sirna expect to complete the acquisition in the first quarter of 2007. Sirna stockholders who own approximately 36% of the company’s outstanding shares have said they will support the transaction and have entered into voting agreements.