Big pharma's cancer push: 3 things to know

In recent months, several drug giants announced they are exploring deals or have completed deals to expand their portfolios of cancer medications.

The recent flurry of acquisitions in oncology  reveals that big pharma wants in on the fast-growing, potentially lucrative cancer market.

Here is a breakdown of some of big pharma's recent cander deals reported by The Wall Street Journal.

1. Eli Lilly. Eli Lilly announced plans in early January to buy Loxo Oncology for $8 billion. Loxo Oncology is developing a pipeline of targeted oncology treatments, including those focused on cancers that can be detected by genomic testing. Last year, the FDA approved Loxo's Vitrakvi, which proved to be effective against a variety of cancers caused by a rare genetic mutation. Last June Lilly also purchased Armo Bioscience, an immunotherapy treatment developer.

2. Bristol-Myers Squibb. The Lilly-Loxo deal came on the heels of Bristol-Myers' announcement that it planned to buy Celgene for $74 billion. Bristol-Myers, already a top developer of immunotherapy drugs, will gain access to Celgene's expertise in the myeloma field. Celgene also purchased Juno Therapeutics last year with the goal of becoming a leader in CAR-T cell therapy, which uses patients' genetically modified immune cells to fight cancer cells. If the $74 billion deal is approved, Bristol-Myers will also have access to those treatments.

3. Gilead Sciences. Gilead has pushed into oncology with its acquisition of Kite Pharma, which specializes in CAR-T therapies.


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