Merck and Co. is spending nearly $500 million to buy two smaller research companies, the New Jersey-based drug giant announced Tuesday.
The acquisitions of Lebanon, N.H.-based GlycoFi Inc. and Santa Clara, Calif.-based Abmaxis Inc., are both expected to close by the end of June.
The purchase announcements come two weeks after Chief Executive Richard T. Clark promised shareholders big changes to a pharmaceutical giant wounded in litigation over heart problems caused by its pain medication, Vioxx.
Merck officials say the deals will make the company a bigger player in the growing field of biologic drugs, which are made from living organisms such as yeast.
GlycoFi, a privately held biotechnology company, will cost Merck $400 million in cash; the price tag for Abmaxis, a privately held biopharmaceutical firm, is $80 million.
Merck previously had deals with both firms to develop or improve drugs.