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J&J Said to Make Takeover Approach for Swiss Drugmaker Actelion

Johnson & Johnson has approached Actelion Ltd. about a potential takeover of the $17 billion Swiss drugmaker as the U.S. health-care giant works to expand its pharmaceutical lineup, people familiar with the matter said.

Deliberations are still at an early stage following J&J’s initial offer, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. Actelion is working with an adviser to explore options and any discussions may not lead to a transaction, the people said.

Representatives for J&J and Allschwil, Switzerland-based Actelion declined to comment.

While Actelion, Europe’s largest biotech, has been named as a potential takeover target for years, Chief Executive Officer and...