Eli Lilly to acquire Loxo Oncology for $8 billion

An employee works in an unit dedicated to the production of insulin pens at the factory run by pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in Fegersheim, eastern France, on October 12, 2015 (AFP Photo/Frederick FLORIN)

Washington (AFP) - Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly will acquire cancer treatment specialist Loxo Oncology in a cash deal valued at around $8 billion, the companies said on Monday.

The firms "announced a definitive agreement for Lilly to acquire Loxo Oncology for $235.00 per share in cash, or approximately $8.0 billion," a statement said.

The deal -- which represents a premium of some 68 percent over Loxo Oncology's closing share price on Friday -- is expected to close by the end of the first quarter, the statement said.

The announcement is the latest in a series of major pharmaceutical deals: last week, Bristol-Myers Squibb said it would buy biotech firm Celgene in a $74 billion cash-and-stock agreement, creating a rival to the world's largest drug makers.

Other recent large pharma deals include French company Sanofi's purchase of US hemophilia group Bioverativ for $11.6 billion and Novartis' $8.7 billion acquisition of rare-disease treatment company AveXis.