Pfizer has agreed to pay USD 43 billion for biotech Seagen and its pioneering class of targeted cancer drugs, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Under the terms, Pfizer would pay USD 229 a share in cash, the drugmaker said on Monday. The companies expect the deal, which includes debt, to close late this year or early next year. However, it is likely to face scrutiny from antitrust regulators, who have stepped up their reviews of healthcare and other deals.
The agreement is an early sign that, despite the threat of close antitrust examinations and higher interest rates, big pharmaceutical companies are poised for heavy deal-making this year, WSJ said.
The drugmakers had in recent years backed off from what had been a torrid deal pace, after potential targets came to cost too much. Yet, they now need to inject new drugs–and their sales–into aging lineups, and price tags have dropped after some research failures and interest rates rose.
Also on Monday, French drugmaker Sanofi said it would buy Provention Bio, which sells diabetes treatment Tzield, in a deal valued at USD 2.9 billion, WSJ said.
Seagen, which is based outside Seattle, helped pioneer a class of drugs known as antibody drug conjugates, or ADCs, that can home in on tumours to strike them with a toxic agent.
The drugs could become one of the next big segments of the USD 375-billion worldwide cancer-drugs market, accounting for USD 31 billion in sales in 2028, drug-market-research firm Evaluate estimates.
According to WSJ, New York-based Pfizer has been looking for acquisitions to help it offset an expected sales loss of USD 17 billion by 2030 as some top-selling drugs like blood thinner Eliquis and breast-cancer drug Ibrance lose patent protection in the next several years.
Sales of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine and drug have buoyed the company’s performance in recent years. Executives have said they can’t count on the same level of sales going forward because the pandemic is entering an endemic phase, prompting the company to use its tens of billions of dollars in Covid-19 revenue for deal-making.
Cancer treatment is a key franchise for Pfizer, contributing more than USD 12 billion of the company’s USD 100 billion in sales last year.
According to WSJ, Pfizer has been looking to increase its cancer-drug footprint. Analysts said Seagen’s therapies would expand Pfizer’s portfolio of breast and bladder cancer drugs, while complementing its efforts to build positions in other tumours with large patient populations like myeloma.
“We are investing to battle cancer,” Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said in an interview to WSJ. “We are investing to grow.”
Pfizer executives said they expect federal antitrust authorities will sign off on the deal because the company and Seagen bring complementary capabilities.
Shares in Pfizer rose 2.7 per cent on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday morning, while Seagen stock jumped more than 16 per cent.
The Seagen acquisition will help Pfizer reach its goal of generating USD 25 billion in additional revenue by 2030 through business development such as deal-making, Pfizer executives told WSJ.
Seagen, which expects USD 2.2 billion in revenue this year, could bring Pfizer more than USD 10 billion in revenue by 2030 if the biotech succeeds in broadening application of its drugs to more kinds of tumours, Pfizer executives said.
Pfizer’s revenue target surpasses the estimates of many analysts, but Bourla called the target reasonable, according to WSJ. He said Pfizer can help Seagen expand its commercial capabilities and use its global drug-development network to help Seagen accelerate its pipeline.
He also said Pfizer expects USD 1 billion in savings from the deal over the next three years, largely from avoiding costs like having to broaden its own sales force. Instead, Pfizer can use Seagen’s.
Seagen caught the attention of Pfizer and other drugmakers because of the potential for ADCs. Merck & Co had discussed buying Seagen last year, but the companies couldn’t agree on a price, The Wall Street Journal has reported. Pfizer’s talks with Seagen advanced quickly after the Journal reported last month that the companies had started talking.