Merck plans to buy Inspire Pharmaceuticals Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on ophthalmic products.

Merck, Inspire Pharmaceuticals, acquire, specialty pharmaceutical, Beverly Lybrand, Saflutan, tafluprost, ophthalmic solution, eye diseases, Azasite, azithromycin ophthalmic solution, Adrian Adams, bacterial conjunctivitis

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Merck to acquire Inspire Pharmaceuticals

April 6th, 2011

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. and RALEIGH, N.C. – Merck plans to buy Inspire Pharmaceuticals Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on ophthalmic products.

Under the agreement announced Tuesday, Merck, through a subsidiary, will commence a tender offer for all outstanding common stock of Inspire. The transaction has a total cash value of about $430 million, and the companies said the deal has been unanimously approved by their boards.

"Merck continues to build upon its long-term commitment to improving therapeutic options for the treatment of eye diseases," stated Beverly Lybrand, senior vice president and general manager of neuroscience and ophthalmology at Merck. "This acquisition combines the talented commercialization organization at Inspire with the excellent team already in place at Merck, thereby strengthening our ophthalmology business and positioning us for future growth with an expanded portfolio. This deal helps address the needs of patients and customers in ophthalmology and creates value for both companies."

Last month, Merck announced that the New Drug Application (NDA) for Saflutan (tafluprost), an investigational preservative-free prostaglandin analogue ophthalmic solution, had been accepted for standard review by the Food and Drug Administration. Saflutan is the proposed trade name for tafluprost in the United States.

“As one of the world’s leading health care companies, Merck is the ideal partner to enhance the long-term potential of Inspire's portfolio of ophthalmic assets. We are delighted that Merck recognized the strength of an integrated platform leveraging the growing Azasite (azithromycin ophthalmic solution) 1% product opportunity and the strong relationships within the ophthalmic community cultivated by our high-quality, specialty eye care sales force in the U.S.," commented Adrian Adams, president and chief executive officer of Inspire. "We believe this combination provides a compelling and timely opportunity for our shareholders to realize the value of their investment in Inspire."

Azasite 1% is indicated for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis in patients ages 1 and older.