Update (4:10 p.m.): Updated with Monday market close information.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Achillion Pharmaceuticals (ACHN) surged Monday amid news that Merck (MRK) would purchase biotechnology company Idenix Pharmaceuticals (IDIX) for $3.85 billion as it tries to strengthen its position in the increasingly competitive hepatitis C sector.
Achillion could be the next acquisition target for larger companies. CNBC reported Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) and Abbvie (ABBV) were both interested in buying Idenix but Merck secured the purchase. Those companies, among others, could now turn their focus to Achillion, which has a pipeline of hepatitis C drugs.
Merck will pay $24.50 a share in cash for Idenix, more than triple the company's closing price of $7.23 on Friday.
"Idenix has established a promising portfolio of hepatitis C candidates,'' said Dr. Roger Perlmutter, the president of Merck Research Laboratories, in a statement Monday.
Achillion stock closed up 47.57%, or $1.37, to $4.25. More than 46.9 million shares changed hands, which eclipsed the average volume of 1,420,150.
For more on the Achillion story, read TheStreet's Adam Feuerstein's article here.