Pfizer is starting to put its COVID-19 cash influx to use by spending US$11.6-billion to venture deeper into a new treatment area.
The New York vaccine and cancer drug maker said Tuesday it will use cash on hand to buy the remaining portion of migraine treatment-developer Biohaven Pharmaceutical it does not already own.
Pfizer will pay US$148.50 in cash for each share of Biohaven, which makes Nurtec ODT for treating and preventing migraines and has a nasal spray under development.
Pfizer Inc. brought in more than US$14-billion in sales during the recently completed first quarter from its COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, and its new pill treatment for the virus, Paxlovid.
Most of that came from Comirnaty, which also rang up nearly US$37-billion in sales last year. But revenue from Comirnaty, which Pifzer developed with BioNTech, is expected to fade in the coming years. Pfizer also faces the loss of patent protection for some key products in its broad portfolio over the next decade.
That includes Eliquis for preventing blood clots and strokes and the Prevnar 13 vaccine for preventing pneumonia and related bacterial diseases.
The company plans to have about US$25-billion in sales by 2030 come from new business developments.
The deal announced Tuesday is a step in that direction. Pfizer currently has no migraine treatments. U.S. regulators approved Nurtec ODT – which stands for orally disintegrating tablet – for treating migraines in February, 2020, and for preventing them about a year ago.
The drug is sold as Vydura in the European Union.
It brought in nearly US$124-million in sales in the first quarter. Biohaven expects US$825- to $900-million in product sales this year.
Pfizer plans to put its marketing muscle into the drug with potential launches for it in 70 countries.
Last November, Pfizer said it would invest US$350-million in Biohaven to help sell Nurtec ODT and the spray, zavegepant, outside the United States.
Pfizer said Tuesday the spray is on track for U.S. acceptance in the current quarter and an oral gel version of it also is being developed for preventing chronic migraines.
Pfizer executives told analysts they expect annual revenue from Nurtec ODT and the spray to eventually peak above US$6-billion.
The pharmaceutical giant is an “ideal acquirer” of Biohaven’s portfolio in part because of its strong presence in primary care, its cash position and its need for new growth drivers, Mizuho Securities USA analyst Dr. Vamil Divan said in a research note.
The deal for Biohaven also includes some other potential treatments in early stages of development.
Other elements of Biohaven’s late-stage development pipeline will go to a new, publicly-traded company that keeps the Biohaven name.
The boards of both Pfizer and Biohaven have approved the sale. Biohaven shareholders, who will receive a stake in the new company, and regulators still need to approve it.
The deal is expected to close by early 2023.
Shares of Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd., which is based in New Haven, Conn., soared almost 70 per cent to US$141.20 in midday trading.
Pfizer’s stock climbed about 1 per cent to US$49.20 as broader trading indexes slipped.
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