Deal-weighing Pharmacyclics could draw $18B from J&J, Novartis: Bloomberg

So far, the 2014 pharma deal blitz has continued right on into 2015. And cancer drugmaker Pharmacyclics ($PCYC) could be the next company to keep it going.

The California company, which boasts a market value of almost $15 billion, is exploring its options--and those include a sale, Bloomberg's sources say. While deliberations are still in the early stages, Pharmacyclics already reportedly has some big-name suitors circling, including Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Novartis ($NVS).

While a potential deal for the Sunnyvale-based company--which could draw bids as high as $17 billion or $18 billion, Bloomberg notes--would be the biggest in the industry so far this year, it's nothing the pharma giants couldn't swallow. And drugmakers may be eager to get their hands on Imbruvica, the blood cancer drug that last month scored its fourth FDA approval.

For J&J, the fit would be natural. Its Janssen subsidiary already markets the med outside the U.S. and shares marketing duties with Pharmacyclics at home, and the pair is working together to try to expand Imbruvica's patient pool. But J&J isn't the company's only partner; it's also teamed up with drugmakers the likes of Amgen ($AMGN), AstraZeneca ($AZN), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Celgene ($CELG) and Roche ($RHHBY) to study Imbruvica as part of cancer-fighting combos.

And for Novartis, which already boasts a pair of blood-cancer powerhouse treatments in Gleevec and Tasigna, the pickup makes sense, too. The Basel-based pharma giant has been active in the M&A arena as it rides pharma's slim-down wave, shedding non-core assets and working to strengthen its focus areas. Cancer is high on its priority list, and to that end, it last year agreed to fork over $16 billion in exchange for GlaxoSmithKline's ($GSK) oncology business--a deal GSK is set to close next week.

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