In a move that will provide significant expansion of its presence in cancer therapeutics, Baxter International (Deerfield, Illinois) said it has signed an agreement to acquire ASTA Medica Oncologie GmbH (Frankfurt, Germany), the medical oncology subsidiary of Degussa AG (Dusseldorf, Germany), for about $470 million. The deal could result in a doubling of Baxter's sales in the oncology sector, the company said. And making an additional expansion into the stem cell arena, Baxter Healthcare (also Deerfield) has purchased some assets of the cell processing business of Nexell Therapeutics (Irvine, California) for $4.3 million. ASTA Medica Oncology makes oncology products that are marketed in more than 100 countries, reporting year 2000 pro forma sales, primarily of its chemotherapy agents, of about $130 million. The company's leading products include Endoxan (cyclophosphamide), Holoxan and Ifex (ifosfamide), and Uromitexan and Mesnex (mesna). Assuming regulatory and other approvals, the deals is set for closing before year's end. Baxter's portfolio of oncology products includes biopharmaceuticals, transfusion therapeutics, drug delivery systems, anesthesia/critical care technologies and nutrition and pharmacy compounding operations. ASTA Medica Oncology is one of four pharmaceutical businesses created by the restructuring of Degussa's pharmaceutical subsidiary, ASTA Medica AG. In the deal with Nexell, Baxter Healthcare unit has agreed to act as the worldwide distributor of that company's cell-processing products, including Nexell's lead product, the Isolex 300I Magnetic Cell Selection system. As part of the agreement, besides acquiring certain assets and liabilities of Nexell's cell-processing business, Baxter Healthcare has acquired worldwide sales, marketing and distribution rights for related products. Baxter said the transaction should become final about Oct. 1.

Boston Scientific (Natick, Massachusetts) has completed its acquisition of Cardiac Pathways (Sunnyvale, California) through the merger of its wholly owned subsidiary, Adam Acquisition 2001, with Cardiac Pathways. At the end of June, the companies announced the signing of a definitive agreement for Boston Scientific to acquire Cardiac Pathways in an all-cash transaction for a purchase price of approximately $115 million. Boston Scientific's products are used in a broad range of interventional medical specialties. Cardiac Pathways makes minimally invasive systems used by electrophysiologists to diagnose and treat cardiac tachyarrhythmias (abnormally rapid heart rhythms). Its products consist principally of systems for performing ablation treatment (a nonsurgical, minimally invasive technique for neutralizing heart tissue responsible for starting or maintaining a tachyarrhythmia) and for diagnostic mapping (locating the source of the tachyarrhythmia within the heart). Nexell develops technologies for the modification or enhancement of human immune function and blood cell formation utilizing adult blood-forming stem cells and other specially prepared cell populations. The treatments being developed address genetic blood disorders, autoimmune diseases and cancer.

Shareholders of C.R. Bard (Murray Hill, New Jersey) last month approved the company's proposed merger with a subsidiary of Tyco International (Pembroke, Bermuda) at a special meeting in New York, bringing the proposed $3.2 billion deal one step closer to completion. Merger terms call for each share of Bard common stock to be exchanged for 1.1280 Tyco common shares. The transaction remains subject to U.S. and foreign regulatory approval, and to other customary conditions and is scheduled for closing in 4Q01. The deal will add Bard's urology, oncology and surgical products portfolio to Tyco's rapidly growing health care offerings.

Praxair Canada (Danbury, Connecticut) an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Praxair, has acquired the assets of Respircare (Ottawa, Ontario), a division of Messer Griesheim Industries Canada, a subsidiary of German-based Messer. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Respircare provides home respiratory services and durable medical equipment through 14 locations in the province of Ontario. And the company said that the acquisition supports its goal of expanding its home care business in North America, part of an overall growth strategy in what it estimates to be a $5 billion North American market for health care gases and services. Respircare provides respiratory therapy equipment and services, sleep apnea services, durable medical equipment and disposable medical supplies.

V.I. Technologies (Vitex; Watertown, Massachusetts), whose products clear viruses, bacteria and parasites from packaged blood, said it would divest its plasma unit for $32 million to help fund a new venture. The company, also known as Vitex, said it also would take a $9 million charge for the difference between the book value of the division and the price it actually sold for. The company said the deal would be for $25 million in cash and $3.5 million from a guaranteed advance to the American Red Cross (Washington), a Vitex partner. Vitex could also receive an additional $5 million if the new company, to be called Precision Pharma, meets certain financial targets. The company said that proceeds of the divestiture would be used to fund a new product that inactivates pathogens in red blood cells.