US firm to buy Iceland’s Decode genetics

Reykjavik’s Decode genetics is to be acquired by a major US pharmaceutical giant. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune on Monday, California-based Amgen Inc has agreed to buy the genetics agency in a cash deal worth USD 415 million (EUR 320 million).

Amgen chief executive Robert Broadway told the media “This fits perfectly with our objective to pursue rapid development of relevant molecules that reach the right disease targets, while avoiding investments in programs based on less well-validated targets,” the Chicago Tribune reports.

Decode, launched in the mid-1990s, takes advantage of the unique gene pool available in the North Atlantic nation; Icelandic society was established a millennia ago by Vikings and the population has seen little genetic interference over the last thousand years.

Analysts say that the move by Amgen is not surprising, as the firm is currently developing heart disease and bone drugs that are based upon genetic research – an area that is becoming an increasingly more important part of the development of pharmaceuticals.

Neurologist Kari Stefansson, Decode’s current president, will retain his role in the takeover and also become vice president of Amgen, according to reports.