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Three years ago, the biotech firm Loxo Oncology purchased a promising blood cancer pill for $40 million — part of a transaction that involved a near-bankruptcy, entrepreneurs with a keen eye, and a red-eye flight from Chicago to London. Now the medicine could go down as one of the great deals in biotech history, pending further data.

Eli Lilly, which acquired Loxo for $8 billion in January 2019, presented new data on the drug, LOXO-305, at this year’s annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology, which opened this past weekend. 


The treatment is a BTK inhibitor (that’s short for Bruton’s tyrosine kinase). In certain blood cancers, the pills cause cancer loads to decrease and significantly extend patients lives. One BTK inhibitor, Imbruvica, sold by AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson, is one of the big success stories in cancer research.

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