Lilly nabs ImClone in $6.5B deal

It's official: Eli Lilly is the highest bidder for ImClone Systems. The drugmaker has agreed to pay $6.5 billion cash for ImClone, outbidding Bristol-Myers Squibb by more than 10 percent. And the $70-a-share price represents a 50 percent premium to ImClone's closing price the day Bristol first announced its interest in a buyout.

Lilly is touting the two-company combo as a "global leader in oncology biopharmaceuticals." The deal amounts to "a very important step forward in addressing the challenges of patent expirations we will face early in the next decade," says Lilly CEO John Lechleiter (photo) in a statement.

The cancer drug ImClone is known for, of course, is Erbitux--a product that it markets in partnership with Bristol. ImClone also has a promising cancer drug candidate that's either a follow-up to or potential competitor for Erbitux, depending on who's talking. Bristol claims that it's a follow-up, which would mean that Bristol gets a piece of the pie. ImClone says no. We'll have to wait and see what Lilly says.

No word yet on how Bristol is reacting to the news that Lilly snatched its buyout target away. But we can bet ImClone Chairman Carl Icahn has a big "I told you so" ready for Bristol's Jim Cornelius.

- see the Lilly release
- read the story in the Star-Ledger