Merck takes aim at superbugs with $9.5 billion deal for Cubist by Reuters @FortuneMagazine December 8, 2014, 7:48 AM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Merck & Co Inc said on Monday it would buy Cubist Pharmaceuticals Inc in a deal valued at $9.5 billion, giving the major drugmaker an entry into the market for drugs that target so-called superbugs. Merck MRK and British rival AstraZeneca Plc have turned their attention to newer kinds of antibiotics that attack superbugs — strains of bacteria that are resistant to several types of antibiotics — after the 2013 threat report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC estimated that more than 2 million people in the United States are sickened every year by such infections, with at least 23,000 dying as a result. Cubist’s lead drug, Ceftolozane/Tazobactamis, is widely expected to win marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration later this month as a treatment for complicated urinary tract infections. Merck will pay $102 per share for Cubist, a premium of 37 percent to the Lexington, Massachussetts-based company’s closing share price of $74.36 on Friday. The deal includes assumption of $1.1 billion in debt.