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Gilead Sciences shells out $4.3B for CymaBay

Illustration of money pouring into a prescription bottle. 

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Drugmaker Gilead Sciences will pay $4.3 billion to acquire chronic liver disease biotech CymaBay Therapeutics.

Why it matters: The acquisition strengthens Gilead's liver disease therapy portfolio — which includes pricey hepatitis C treatments — and reflects the continuing trend of Big Pharma targeting late-stage assets for takeout.

Details: Gilead will pay $32.50 in cash for each share of CymaBay for the drug developer, representing a premium of 26.5% to Friday's close, per reports.

  • CymaBay's late-stage drug seladelpar is awaiting FDA approval to treat primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), a type of chronic inflammatory liver disease.
  • The deal is expected to close in the first quarter.
  • CymaBay reported positive Phase 3 results for seladelpar, expected to support its bid for regulatory approval.

Flashback: CymaBay stayed the course with this drug even after seeing it fail in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in 2019, which dragged down the drugmaker's stock significantly.

  • CymaBay halted clinical development of seladelpar for NASH when biopsies showed signs of liver damage in some patients, but the biotech revived its program in 2020, focused on PBC.

What's next: The FDA is reviewing a marketing application for seladelpar, with an approval decision by Aug. 14.

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