Pfizer Strikes Again With Astra Antibiotics Deal

26.08.2016 -

With plenty of cash still in the kitty after a failed attempt last April to buy Allergan for $160 million and move its headquarters to Ireland, Pfizer continues to pound the aquisition trail. In its second deal in less than a week – on the heels of striking paydirt with Medivation to the tune of $14 billion – the US drugs giant has announced it will buy the rights to part of Anglo-Swedish rival AstraZeneca’s portfolio of approved and experimental antibiotic and antifungal pills.

The deal with an enterprise value of  more than $1.5 billion is designed to lift Pfizer’s profile in one of its priority areas, replacing products that have lost patent protection. It includes marketing rights in most countries outside the US and Canada, along with royalties and other payments. Under the terms, AstraZeneca will receive an upfront payment of $550 million and an unconditional $175 million in January 2019. Thereafter, depending on the progress and commercial success of the drugs, Pfizer will pay a further $850 million plus royalties.

As part of the package, Pfizer will gain rights to three already-approved antibiotics and two drugs in clinical trials. The list includes Merrem, for treating bacterial meningitis and serious infections of the skin and stomach, and Zinforo for pneumonia and complex skin and soft tissue infections, along with Zavicefta, a combination antibiotic just approved in the EU for treating serious bacterial infections.

Ironically, reports said Allergan holds the North American rights to four of the drugs. For the fifth, Merem, Pfizer will obtain North American rights, according to the US business newspaper Wall Street Journal. The transaction will not include AstraZeneca’s portfolio of biological anti-infective drugs, or the business spun off in 2015  to focus on development of early-stage antibiotics.

Pfizer said the rights acquired will add to its “essential health” business, which sells older products, many of which are off-patent. The US drugmaker’s portolio already includes more than 60 anti-infective and antifungal medicines.

Luke Miels, AstraZeneca’s executive vice president for Europe and head of antibiotics, said that through Pfizer’s global orientation the medicines “will reach greater numbers of patients around the world.” He added that the company is “pleased that our strong science in antibiotics will continue to serve a critical public health need through Pfizer's dedicated focus on infectious diseases.