Pfizer buying spree continues with $5.4B hematology deal

Pfizer will spend around $5.4 billion to buy Global Blood Therapeutics as the pharmaceutical giant continues to invest some of the cash inflow harvested during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pfizer said Monday that the acquisition will boost its work in rare hematology. Global Therapeutics, which was founded in 2011, makes Oxybryta tablets to treat sickle cell disease.

Pfizer has been flush with cash since its COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, and its treatment, Paxlovid, hit the market, starting with the vaccine in late 2020. The drugmaker has now announced deals worth a total of nearly $ 19 billion, counting debt, since the end of last year.

The latest deal follows Pfizer’s $11.6 billion acquisition of Biohaven, which the companies announced in May, and the $6.7 billion acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals announced last December.

Pfizer also detailed in April a smaller acquisition of private company ReViral Ltd., which is developing a treatment for respiratory syncytial virus.

Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine and treatment generated more than $16 billion combined in the recently completed second quarter alone.

Comirnaty posted almost $37 billion in sales last year alone, but those sales are expected to decline in a few years. Pfizer also faces the loss of patent protection for key products like Eliquis to prevent blood clots and strokes over the next decade.

The company plans to have around $25 billion in sales by 2030 from new business development.

Aamir Malik, the company’s director of business innovation, recently told analysts that Pfizer was “leaving very few stones unturned” in pursuing expansion opportunities. Malik said that Pifzer was looking for deals that would add substantial value, either scientifically or commercially.

“I think we’re very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead and the flexibility that our balance sheet gives us to take advantage of them,” he said during a call to discuss second-quarter results.

Malik told analysts that the Biohaven deal alone could add $6 billion in peak sales to Pfizer’s business.

The drugmaker said Monday that the Global Blood Therapeutics franchise for sickle cell disease, which includes treatments still in development, could reach peak worldwide sales of more than $3 billion.

Oxbryta sales were around $195 million last year, but Pfizer said it plans to accelerate distribution of the drug to parts of the world hardest hit by the disease.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that can cause episodes of severe pain and organ damage. It occurs particularly among people of African descent. The companies say there are 4.5 million people living with the disease worldwide.

Pfizer will pay $68.50 per share in cash for each share of Global Blood Therapeutics. That represents a nearly 43% premium to the share’s closing price of $47.99 on August 4, the day before The Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer was in advanced talks on a deal.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal, which still needs regulatory approval and GBT shareholder approval. The companies say the deal could close as soon as the fourth quarter.

Shares of Global Blood Therapeutics Inc., based outside San Francisco, rose more than 4% to $66.58 in morning trading. Broader indices and shares of New York-based Pfizer rose slightly.

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