AstraZeneca approaches Gilead about merging

NEW YORK — AstraZeneca PLC has made a preliminary approach to rival drug maker Gilead Sciences Inc. about a potential merger, according to people familiar with the matter, in what would be the biggest health care deal on record.

The UK company informally contacted Gilead last month to gauge its interest in a possible tie-up, the people said, asking not to be identified because the details are private. AstraZeneca didn’t specify terms for any transaction, they said. While Gilead has discussed the idea with advisers, no decisions have been made on how to proceed and the companies aren’t in formal talks, the people added.

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