Eli Lilly to buy immunology drug developer Dice for $2.4 billion

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Eli Lilly

Eli Lilly to buy immunology drug developer Dice for $2.4 billion

June 20 (Reuters) – Eli Lilly and Co. (LLY.N) agreed to buy Dice Therapeutics Inc. (DICE.O) for about $2.4 billion in cash on Tuesday, bolstering its immune disease-related portfolio with a largely oral drug developer.

Dice’s lead drug DC-806, which is currently in a mid-stage trial, is an immunology drug for a skin condition called psoriasis and other diseases.

The drug’s mechanism is similar to Lilly’s Taltz and works by inhibiting a protein called IL-17, which provides inflammatory signal.

However, unlike Taltz, which is an injection, Dice is developing drugs, including its lead candidate, on its proprietary technology platform for oral medicines.

Indianapolis-headquartered Lilly is focusing on immunology to drive future growth, along with a widely expected approval of obesity drug candidate tirzepatide.

The company, which last year saw a sharp drop in sales of its insulin products due to price cuts, last month said it plans to be a top player in immunology and secure approval for at least 11 indications by the end of 2025.

Lilly has offered Dice $48 per share in cash, a premium of about 42% to the stock’s last close. Shares of Dice were up 37.8% premarket on Tuesday.

Lilly’s Taltz garnered $2.48 billion in 2022 while its other immunology drug Olumiant generated $830.5 million in sales.

Stifel analyst Alex Thompson does not expect to see any obvious concerns from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which has been scrutinizing large pharmaceutical deals recently.

Lilly’s shares have been the biggest gainer on the S&P 500 Pharmaceuticals sub-index in the year so far, rising 22% to last close due to optimism around the obesity drug.

The companies expect to close the deal in the third quarter, subject to regulatory clearances.

Reporting by Leroy Leo and Khushi Mandowara in Bengaluru, Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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Source: Reuters