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WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (AP) — Merck is starting a tender offer on Friday to buy all of the outstanding shares of hepatitis C treatment maker Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Merck & Co. announced earlier this month that it would pay about $3.85 billion for the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company. Merck is hoping that teaming Idenix's hepatitis C medicines with its experimental drugs will produce lucrative combo therapies that quickly cure most patients with the blood-borne virus afflicting tens of millions.
Hepatitis C has become one of the hottest categories in drug research as companies race to develop a combination therapy without injections and debilitating side effects. Some have had their promising candidates fail after extensive testing, due to dangerous side effects, but Gilead Sciences Inc. is already raking in billions of dollars from its groundbreaking new drug, Sovaldi.
Merck said Friday that once the tender offer closes, Idenix stockholders will receive $24.50 in cash for each Idenix share validly tendered and not withdrawn in the offer. Idenix shares finished at $23.99 in Thursday.
The tender offer expires on Aug. 4, unless extended.
The boards of Merck and Idenix have approved the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter. Idenix will become a Merck subsidiary.
Merck is based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey.