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Pharmaceutical giant Merck will spend about $3.85 billion for Idenix Pharmaceuticals Inc., a small company developing hepatitis C medicines that, together with Merck’s experimental drugs, could produce lucrative combo therapies that quickly cure most patients with the blood-borne virus afflicting tens of millions. The price for the deal announced Monday — a per-share bid more than triple Friday’s closing price for Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Idenix — seems high. However, the latest hepatitis C medicines command very high prices, the number of patients keeps rising and Merck was bidding against rivals.



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