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Amgen said Thursday it will purchase Five Prime Therapeutics for $1.9 billion to obtain a potential treatment for gastric cancer, a move that will also expand the biotech giant’s focus in Asia.

The deal represents a major victory for Five Prime, which traded as low as $2.17 last March. The company’s stock jumped in November, when key results from a study of its gastric cancer drug, bemarituzumab, were released, and have continued to rise since.


David Reese, Amgen’s executive vice president for research and development, said that a major factor in the deal was the company’s expectation that it would get a significant amount of its future growth in the Asia-Pacific region. For reasons that are not completely understood, gastric cancer occurs at much higher rates in Asian countries than in the U.S. or Europe. The disease is a major cause of death globally.

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