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Shire Buying SARcode for $160 Million

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Shire (NASDAQ: SHPG  ) of Dublin, Ireland, is buying Brisbane, Calif.-based biopharmaceutical startup SARcode Bioscience for $160 million upfront, "plus additional undisclosed payments upon achievement of certain clinical, regulatory, and/or commercial milestones," Shire announced Monday.

With the company comes SARcode's phase 3 compound LIFITEGRAST, which the company hopes to use to treat dry eye disease. Shire thinks that after it buys the company -- and assuming FDA approval, of course -- it could bring this product to market as early as 2016. 

Shire notes that 25 million people suffer from dry eye disease in the U.S., of which 9 million are candidates for prescription drug treatment -- yet only 10% of these actually receive such treatment today.

The company notes also that the acquisition aligns well with its purchase, earlier this month, of Swedish biotech Premacure, which is doing work on another eye-related treatment -- specifically, a prevention for infant retinopathy of prematurity. Shire says it is using acquisitions such as these to target a global ophthalmic pharmaceutical market, valued at approximately $13 billion in 2012 with a compound annual growth rate of 4.5%.

Investors are less enthusiastic. In response to today's news, Shire shares fell 0.1% to close at $90.61.

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