The European Commission has cleared the proposed acquisition by AstraZeneca of US-based biopharmaceutical company Alexion Pharmaceuticals for approximately $39bn or $175 a share.

This development comes after competition clearances in the US, Japan and other countries worldwide.

Regulatory clearance is still pending in the UK and is needed to conclude the acquisition.

In May, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation into the proposed acquisition.

The CMA is reviewing whether the deal will cause a relevant merger situation and if the creation of that situation would lower competition within any market or in the UK goods or services markets.

AstraZeneca executive director and chief financial officer Marc Dunoyer said: “We are pleased to have secured clearance from the European Commission for the proposed acquisition of Alexion, a pioneer in the discovery and development of medicines for rare diseases.

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“We are now another step closer to closing the acquisition and combining the two companies to create a leader in immunology and precision medicines.”

In December last year, AstraZeneca proposed the deal in a bid to boost its scientific footprint in immunology by leveraging Alexion’s complement-technology platform and broad pipeline.

Alexion develops therapies for immune-mediated rare diseases caused by uncontrolled activation of the complement system, a critical part of the immune system.

Rare diseases signify a high-growth area with substantial unmet medical needs, AstraZeneca noted.

More than 7,000 rare diseases are currently identified but only about 5% have the US Food and Drug Administration-approved (FDA) therapies.

According to estimates, future demand for rare diseases medicines could increase by a low double-digit percentage.

The acquisition of Alexion secured the support of both parties’ shareholders in May and is slated to conclude in the third quarter of this year.

After closing, a rare disease-focused group known as ‘Alexion, The AstraZeneca Rare Disease Unit’ will be formed.