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For years, investors have pestered Gilead Sciences with the same question in myriad phrasings: When are you going to buy something big? Now, before the ink has even dried on the company’s commitment to a $21 billion acquisition, they’re wondering just how Gilead can justify that price.

The deal, which gives Gilead control of the cancer drug maker Immunomedics, came at a more than 100% premium to the company’s most recent stock price, making it the most expensive large acquisition in 10 years of biotech history, according to the analysts at SVB Leerink. Gilead management said it expects the deal to pay for itself by 2023, but that depends on quite a few things breaking in the company’s favor. 

In monetary terms, it would require Immunomedics’ lead drug, Trodelvy, to bring in about $5 billion a year. Cowen biotech analyst Phil Nadeau said the drug could deliver more than $4 billion in peak sales — at least approaching the target. 

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