Aug. 19 (UPI) -- U.S. pharma company Johnson & Johnson announced Wednesday it will buy drugmaker Momenta in a $6.5 billion deal, as it seeks to expand its presence in the autoimmune diseases market.
Massachusetts-based Momenta will become part of Johnson & Johnson's Janssen pharmaceutical unit. The purchase will be completed at $52.50 per share -- a 70.4% premium to Momenta's closing price on Tuesday.
The company said the key to the deal was Momenta's "nipocalimab" antibody, which has been shown effective in treating autoimmune diseases like maternal-fetal and neuro-inflammatory disorders, rheumatology, dermatology and autoimmune hematology.
Nipocalimab recently received a rare pediatric disease designation from the Food and Drug Administration, the company noted.
"This acquisition broadens Janssen's leadership in autoimmune diseases and provides us with a major catalyst for sustained growth," Jennifer Taubert, Johnson & Johnson's worldwide chairwoman for pharmaceuticals, said in a statement. "Autoantibody-driven diseases are often serious, and patients are underserved by current treatment options."
In autoantibody-driven diseases, the body's antibodies attack or damage its own proteins, cells and tissues. Nearly 200 million people worldwide, or 2.5% of the global population, have some form of autoantibody-driven disease, some of which are rare.
Wednesday's acquisition will be an all-cash deal, the company said.