Astellas Pharma Inc. said Monday it will buy U.S. pharmaceutical company Iveric Bio Inc. for about $5.9 billion in its largest takeover, as the Japanese drugmaker pushes ahead with its acquisition drive.

Astellas will acquire all outstanding shares of Iveric Bio, which focuses on ophthalmology treatments, for $40 per share through its U.S. unit, Astellas US Holdings Inc., with the transaction expected to be completed by the end of September.

Iveric Bio, which is listed on the Nasdaq market, is currently seeking U.S. approval for a drug for age-related macular degeneration, an eye disorder that can cause blurred vision, Astellas said.

Astellas Pharma Inc.'s logo. (Kyodo)


The buyout is the company's latest effort to strengthen its drug development capabilities through mergers and acquisitions, following its recent purchases of U.S. biotech companies Audentes Therapeutics Inc. in 2020 and Xyphos Biosciences in 2019, among others.

The drug awaiting approval will be "the third pillar" of the Japanese company's product portfolio to drive growth, along with cancer drug Padcev and fezolinetant, a treatment under development for vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause, Astellas President Naoki Okamura said in an online press conference.

Sales of the drug for macular degeneration are expected to make up for the decline in sales of the prostate cancer drug Xtandi when its patent expires in the late 2020s.

"There are extremely high unmet medical needs" for age-related macular degeneration, Okamura said. "(The new drug) will make our portfolio more powerful."

The acquisition will strengthen Astellas' research and development of ophthalmology drugs and help the company achieve its sales goal of over 1.2 trillion yen from its core products by the year through March 2026, he said.

The Japanese company plans to secure the purchase funds of about 800 billion yen for the deal through bank loans and by issuing commercial paper.