Deal centres on promising leukaemia drug fast-tracked by the US Food and Drug Administration

Jazz Pharmaceuticals has agreed to buy clinical-stage biopharma specialist Celator Pharmaceuticals in a $1.5 billion (£1 billion) deal. The acquisition follows Celator’s promising trials of a new leukaemia treatment.

Based in Ireland, Jazz has a limited portfolio of blood cancer drugs, including Erwinaze (asparaginase), which is used to treat acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

The Celator acquisition will give Jazz access to another leukaemia treatment, Vyxeos (cytarabine and daunorubicin). A formulation of two existing chemotherapy drugs, Vyxeos has exhibited promising results in recent Phase III clinical trials. Last month, the US Food and Drug Administration awarded it a breakthrough therapy designation, which is designed to speed up the drug’s development.

Jazz has offered to pay $30.25 a share in cash to acquire Celator. ‘Celator Pharmaceuticals is a strong strategic fit with Jazz Pharmaceuticals,’ said Jazz chairman Bruce Cozadd in a statement. ‘Vyxeos will further diversify our product portfolio and is complementary to our clinical and commercial expertise in haematology and oncology.’