updated 10/2/2006 8:52:28 AM ET 2006-10-02T12:52:28

Gilead Sciences Inc., a drug research company, said Monday it plans to buy Myogen Inc. for about $2.5 billion in cash, giving Gilead access to Myogen's heart-drug candidates.

Under the terms of the deal, Gilead will pay Myogen shareholders $52.50 per share _ a premium of 50 percent over the stock's closing price Friday of $35.08.

Myogen's lead product candidate is a heart drug called ambrisentan, which treats pulmonary arterial hypertension. Gilead and Myogen said they believe data from two Phase III studies can support a new drug application, a significant step toward commercial viability.

"Myogen represents a unique scientific and strategic fit with our company, bringing Gilead a late-stage product candidate that addresses an area of significant unmet medical need," Gilead said in a joint statement with Myogen.

Gilead said the deal will boost earnings in 2007 and 2008. It does not expect Myogen to add to 2009 profit.

Myogen's board approved the deal, which is expected to close by the end of the year, pending regulatory and other standard approvals.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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