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Forest Labs to buy Furiex in deal worth $1.5B

A Forest Laboratories facility on Commack Road in

A Forest Laboratories facility on Commack Road in Commack on Feb. 18, 2014. Credit: Bloomberg News / Craig Warga

A $25-billion bid to buy Forest Laboratories hasn't stopped the drugmaker with substantial operations in Suffolk County from continuing to shop for deals of its own.

Forest, which is headquartered in Manhattan, said Monday it will spend as much as $1.5 billion to buy Furiex Pharmaceuticals Inc. in a deal that will give it one of the broadest product lines for gastrointestinal disease treatments.

Shares of Morrisville, N.C.-based Furiex soared in trading after the companies announced the deal.

Forest employs more than 600 people at facilities in Commack and Hauppauge. Its latest acquisition bid comes more than two months after Ireland-based Actavis PLC said it planned to buy Forest in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $25 billion that is expected to close by the middle of the year.

Forest spokeswoman Mandy Kaufman said Monday Actavis agreed to the Furiex acquisition bid and supports it.

For that deal, Forest plans to pay about $1.1 billion in cash, or $95 per share, for Furiex. It also will make additional payments of up to about $360 million depending on the development of eluxadoline, which treats the symptoms of a form of irritable bowel syndrome. Furiex announced initial results from late-stage testing on that drug in February and plans to submit it to regulators for approval later this year.

The treatment had received an FDA fast-track designation, which is designed to speed up the development and review of drugs that treat diseases with significant and unmet medical need.

Earlier this year, Forest completed a $2.9 billion purchase of Aptalis, which makes gastrointestinal and cystic fibrosis treatments.

Forest has been hurt by generic competition to major drugs like the anxiety and depression treatment Lexapro.

Shares of Furiex was up more than 28 percent, or $22.90, for the closing price at $103.05, while Forest shares slipped 34 cents to $88.50.

With James T. Madore

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