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Cubist to pay up to $1.6b for two drug makers

Kristina Stafstrom worked in a lab at Cubist Pharmaceuticals as an intern in 2008.

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Kristina Stafstrom worked in a lab at Cubist Pharmaceuticals as an intern in 2008.

Lexington’s Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc., best-known for its antibiotic Cubicin, will pay up to $1.6 billion to acquire two other drug makers in a bid to increase its line of antibiotics, the company said Tuesday.

The deal to buy Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Jersey City, N.J., and Trius Therapeutics Inc. of San Diego, Calif., adds an antibacterial drug to the Cubist product portfolio and puts several other antibiotics in its pipeline for approval.

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Over the past several years, Cubist has made major investments to build up its antibiotic business, and these two deals bolster its focus on providing acute care products to hospitals and patients.

“These are both highly strategic acquisitions for us,” said Michael Bonney, Cubist chief executive officer.

The deals are expected to ultimately generate between $600 million and $1 billion in annual revenue, he said, meaning Cubist can “invest more in finding new antibiotics and help address critical health care problems.”

Adding the assets of Optimer and Trius also furthers Cubist’s goal of becoming “the place to go” for antibiotics research, he said, and developing new drugs to fight infectious disease in the United States and abroad.

In 2011, Optimer received the US Food and Drug Administration’s approval for an antibacterial treatment known as DIFICID for severe diarrhea that effects some 700,000 people every year and is responsible for about 14,000 deaths annually.

Cubist and Optimer already had a relationship because Cubist promoted the drug to hospitals and physicians. Cubist agreed to pay about $801 million to acquire the company.

Trius does not have any drugs on the market but is working on the development of several late-stage candidates, including Tedizolid, to treat serious skin infections. That deal was worth $818 million.

In recent years, most of Cubist’s success has come from selling Cubicin to treat complicated skin infections. The company also sells Entereg, a drug designed to speed up recovery following gastrointestinal surgery, and has three drugs in late-stage trials. It has about 800 employees and recorded $926 million in revenues last year. It would not disclose how many employees would be added as a result of the two deals.

The acquisitions are still subject to regulatory review but are expected to close later this year. Cubist stock closed Tuesday at $57, up 1.86 percent from the previous day.

Michael B. Farrell can be reached at michael.farrell@globe.com.
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