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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Merck (NYSE: MRK) agreed to buy Peloton Therapeutics, a Dallas-based developer of oral oncology drugs. The deal is valued at upwards of $2.25 billion, including $1.05 billion upfront in cash.

Why it matters: This reflects how Big Pharma is seeking to bolster oncology pipelines via M&A, including recent mega-deals like BSM/Celgene and Eli Lilly/Loxo Oncology. It also pulls an IPO off the board, as Peloton had been scheduled to list later this week.

  • ROI: Peloton Therapeutics had raised around $270 million from firms like The Column Group (19.6% pre-IPO stake), Remeditex Ventures (14.7%), Topspin Partners (11.3%), RA Capital (7.5%), UC Regents (6.9%) and Nextech Invest (5.8%). Its post recent post-money valuation was around $711 million.

The bottom line: "Peloton was due to go public this week and raise $150 million or more to bankroll a late-phase trial of HIF-2α inhibitor in metastatic renal cell carcinoma patients previously treated with at least one checkpoint inhibitor, such as Merck’s Keytruda. But a late offer from Merck has persuaded the biotech to switch lanes, taking a buyout that represents a premium on the IPO terms even before milestones are factored in."— Nick Paul Taylor, FierceBiotech

Go deeper

Twitter labels tweet from RT implying voter fraud in U.S. elections

Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Twitter on Thursday labeled a tweet from Russian state media outlet RT (formerly Russia Today) that included a video implying widespread voter fraud is plaguing, and potentially delegitimizing, the U.S. election.

Why it matters: It's the first time Twitter has labeled RT's account with a civic integrity label, or a designation used to highlight efforts to manipulate or interfere in elections or other civic processes.

58 mins ago - Health

U.S. tops 88,000 COVID-19 cases, setting new single-day record

Expand chart
Data: COVID Tracking Project; Chart: Axios Visuals

The United States reported 88,452 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, setting a single-day record, according to data from the COVID Tracking Project.

The big picture: The country confirmed 1,049 additional deaths due to the virus, and there are over 46,000 people currently being hospitalized, suggesting the U.S. is experiencing a third wave heading into the winter months.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Large coronavirus outbreaks leading to high death rates — Coronavirus cases are at an all-time high ahead of Election Day.
  2. Politics: Top HHS spokesperson pitched coronavirus ad campaign as "helping the president" — Space Force's No. 2 general tests positive for coronavirus.
  3. World: Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases.
  4. Sports: MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.
  5. 🎧Podcast: The vaccine race turns toward nationalism.