Rumours last week that US biotechnology company OSI Pharmaceuticals might walk away from its $900 million dollar merger with Eyetech Pharmaceuticals proved unfounded, as the two companies confirmed on Saturday they would close the deal today.

OSI and Eyetech said the acquisition would complete by mutual consent on November 14, giving OSI the extra time it wanted to re-evaluate the transaction [[11/11/05b]].

OSI said last week that it was concerned about the prospects for Eyetech’s wet age-related macular degeneration treatment Macugen (pegaptanib) after a competing product from Novartis and Genentech – Lucentis (ranibizumab) - was reported to have performed very well in Phase III trials [[08/11/05c]].

Lucentis has the same mechanism of action as Macugen - which is sold by Pfizer in the USA - and is due to be submitted for approval next year. Analysts have suggested that Lucentis' commercialisation would quickly eat into Macugen's market share. Meanwhile, there are a series of other drugs for wet AMD coming through trials, and off-label use of Genentech’s cancer drug Avastin (bevacizumab) could also raise competition in the marketplace.