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In a surprise bid to bolster its fortunes, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) agreed to pay $5.1 billion for Tesaro (TSRO), which sells a so-called PARP inhibitor in the burgeoning but highly competitive oncology market. These medicines have increased survival rates for women with recurrent ovarian cancer, and are also exhibiting promise for treating other forms of cancer, such as lung, breast and prostate.

Glaxo chief executive Emma Walmsley called Zejula a “jewel in the PARP class” and heralded the purchase as a “significant development” in her efforts to refocus the drug maker, a move that last year included hiring former Genentech R&D chief Hal Barron. For his part, Barron argued “there is an enormous amount of science that is evolving and this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

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