Merck & Co acquires Scotland’s IOmet Pharma in £280 million deal

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Merck & Co has acquired IOmet, a privately-held Scotland-based drug discovery company specialising in immunotherapy and cancer metabolism.

The US giant is getting hold of IOmet’s pre-clinical pipeline of IDO (indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase 1), TDO (tryptophan-2,3-dioxygenase) and dual-acting IDO/TDO inhibitors. Eric Rubin, head of oncology early-stage development at Merck Research Laboratories, said the acquisition is an example of the firm’s commitment to fully realising the potential of this rapidly evolving field”. It is already leading the pack with its checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab), which is already marketed for advanced melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer.

Financial terms of the acquisition were not broken down but the BBC reported that Edinburgh-headquartered IOmet could bank £280 million if all milestones are met. The deal went down well with the Scottish government, with the Deputy First Minister John Swinney saying that “it is testament to the intellectual vibrancy and strong commercial attractiveness of Scotland’s life science businesses”.