Novartis (NVS) - Get Novartis AG Sponsored ADR Report is close to buying Medicines Co. (MDCO) - Get Medicines Company Report , the cholesterol drugmaker, for nearly $7 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Novartis, the Swiss drugmaker, has agreed to pay $85 a share in a deal that could soon be announced, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.

Using a fully diluted share count, the deal is worth about $9.7 billion, one of the people said.

Shares of Medicines Co. closed Friday at $68.55.

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It was reported last week by Bloomberg that Medicines Co. has attracted takeover interest from suitors including Novartis.

Medicines Co. recently published encouraging results at an American Heart Association conference for Inclisiran, a twice-yearly treatment that could become a standard of care for patients suffering from high levels of LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol. The company said it will seek Food and Drug Administration approval for the treatment later this year.

"The excellent results of ORION-9 are very encouraging for the many FH patients who require additional LDL-lowering to help them reach their treatment goals," said CEO Mark Timney. "Inclisiran presents the first-ever potential option for durable and potent lowering of LDL-C using twice-yearly dosing to give healthcare professionals more control over getting their patients to goal."

The Journal noted that an acquisition would help Novartis grow stronger in a corner of the healthcare market it already is targeting with drugs such as its heart-failure treatment Entresto.

Novartis, the Journal noted, had high hopes for Entresto, but early sales haven't met Wall Street expectations. But prescriptions have risen and sales jumped to $430 million in the third quarter.

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