Merck to acquire US biopharma CDMO Exelead for $780m


Pharma giant Merck has signed an all-cash deal worth around $780 million to acquire Exelead, an Indiana-based biopharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing organization (biopharma CDMO).

Exelead is said to have specialization in complex injectable formulations, which include Lipid Nanoparticle (LNP) based drug delivery technology.

According to Merck, LNP-based technology is important in therapeutics for use in Covid-19 and several other indications.

Commenting on Merck acquisition of Exelead, Belén Garijo — CEO of Merck said: “Novel modalities, particularly mRNA, present a highly attractive business opportunity as pharma and biotech pipelines are increasingly building on them beyond Covid-19. The acquisition of Exelead will further enable Merck to capture the significant potential of the fast-growing market for therapies by providing leading CDMO services to our customers.”

Merck to acquire US biopharma CDMO Exelead for $780m

Merck to acquire US biopharma CDMO Exelead for $780m. Photo courtesy of County Planning Commission/

Merck stated that the acquisition of the biopharma CDMO is another milestone to expedite innovation in its division, which is one of its three growth engines. It follows Merck’s acquisition of German CDMO AmpTec in early 2021.

Exelead is said to have over 10 years of experience across all development phases from pre- to commercial contract manufacturing for LNP formulations, which include fill and finish.

Headquartered in Indianapolis, the biopharma CDMO has a workforce of over 200.

Merck said that it plans to continue investing in as a modality and will scale up the technology at Exelead’s existing facility in Indianapolis.

John Rigg — CEO of Exelead, commenting on Merck acquisition of Exelead, said: “With Merck’s long-established expertise in the biopharmaceutical industry, Exelead will now be in a greater position to serve the needs of customers and patients.

“The business combination will further strengthen our renowned technological know-how and unique expertise that we bring to the CDMO space.”

The deal, which is subject to regulatory clearances and the other customary closing conditions, is expected to close in Q1 2022.

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