UPDATE 1-Roche seeks financing for potential Alexion takeover -sources
(Adds details on Alexion, healthcare deals)
NEW YORK, July 12 (Reuters) - Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche Holding AG is seeking financing for a potential takeover of Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc, a transaction that would be the largest healthcare deal of the year, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.
Shares of Alexion surged 14 percent to $115.93 on the Nasdaq, valuing the U.S. drugmaker, which specializes in the treatment of severe, rare diseases, at nearly $23 billion.
Roche and Alexion declined to comment. The sources asked not to be identified because the matter is not public. Bloomberg first reported Roche's bid plans for the company.
Pharmaceutical companies are increasingly interested in developing or buying orphan drugs or treatments for rare diseases, as their more conventional products have lost patent protection and consequently market share to generic competitors.
Alexion sells Soliris, a costly monoclonal antibody that treats paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), a rare life-threatening disease that leads to destruction of red blood cells. The drug's sales soared 38 percent in the first quarter to $339 million, making it a blockbuster product.
Drugs for rare diseases can command prices of more than $500,000 a year, and have been highly profitable for other biotech companies - most notably Genzyme Corp, which was purchased in a deal valued at $20.1 billion in 2011.
(Reporting by Soyoung Kim in New York, additional reporting by Ransdell Pierson,; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Steve Orlofsky)