Pfizer acquires Array Biopharma

File: Pfizer said it offered $48 per share in cash for Array, putting an $11.4-billion value on the company.

File: Pfizer has increased its predicted full year profit following growth in its biopharma business.

Don Emmert / AFP

NEW YORK - US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced the acquisition of Array BioPharma, a biotechnology firm that specialises in cancer drugs, the latest in a long list of biotech mergers in recent years.

In a statement, Pfizer said it offered $48 per share in cash for Array, putting an $11.4-billion value on the company.

"The board of directors of both companies have approved the merger," Pfizer said.

The proposed acquisition "sets the stage to create a potentially industry-leading franchise for colorectal cancer alongside Pfizer's existing expertise in breast and prostate cancers," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said.

Array's portfolio includes two drugs, Braftovi (encorafenib) and Mektovi (binimetinib), that when combined are effective in treating BRAF-mutant melanoma.

The combination of the two drugs was authorised in September by the European Commission, several months after the US Federal Drug Administration gave its approval.

Besides melanomas, BRAF mutations occur in up to 15 percent of colorectal cancers, Pfizer said.

The transaction shows how big pharmaceutical companies are looking to biotech acquisitions for growth, often buying them for astronomical sums.

In early January, Bristol-Myers-Squibb acquired Celgene in a $74-billion mega-merger.

Last year, Sanofi scooped up Bioverativ, which specializes in haemophilia treatments, for $11.6-billion and forked out $3.9-billion euros from Ablynx of Belgium.

Novartis for its part picked up AveXis, which specializes in rare genetic maladies, for $8.7-billion.