Wed, May 18, 2016 - Page 15 News List

Pfizer buying skin drug maker Anacor for US$5.2 billion

SCRATCHING THAT ITCH:The acquisition gives Pfizer an experimental eczema drug, US rights to toenail fungus drug Kerydin and a host of early-stage drugs

AP, TRENTON, New Jersey

Pfizer Inc is fortifying its key immunology and inflammation drug business, snapping up a small maker of skin disorder treatments for about US$5.2 billion, weeks after the US Department of the Treasury torpedoed Pfizer’s planned US$160 billion deal for Allergan PLC.

Pfizer’s agreement on Monday to acquire Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc, a money-losing developer of topical skin treatments, is the biggest US-based drugmaker’s latest move in a years-long struggle to accelerate growth.

Pfizer, known for Viagra and pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13, had been counting on acquiring Dublin-based Allergan and moving its headquarters — on paper — from New York to Ireland to reduce its tax bill. However, the Treasury Department on April 5 issued new rules governing “tax-inversion” deals, removing the financial incentives for buying Allergan.

With Palo Alto, California-based Anacor, Pfizer gains an experimental eczema treatment that could be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration by January next year, plus US rights to topical toenail fungus treatment Kerydin and a portfolio of other drugs in early testing.

If approved, its topical eczema medicine, crisaborole, would be the first new medication type in 15 years for eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis.

Between 18 million and 25 million people in the US have the chronic inflammatory skin disorder, which causes inflammation and itching, often in skin folds and lasting for two weeks or more.

It is particularly common in infants and children.

Pfizer, which sells blockbuster Enbrel for plaque psoriasis and other immune disorders, said peak annual sales of crisaborole could reach or exceed US$2 billion.

Pfizer vaccines, oncology and consumer healthcare group president Albert Bourla called the buyout “attractive,” saying in a statement that there are currently few safe topical treatments for eczema.

Anacor posted only US$17.5 million in revenue in the first quarter, when it lost US$16.1 million. Anacor shares soared 55 percent, or US$35.50, to US$99.53, in afternoon trading on Monday. Pfizer shares rose US$0.16 to US$33.35.

Pfizer is to pay US$99.25 per Anacor share, 55 percent above its Friday closing price of US$64.03.

Anacor holds rights to Kerydin, which is marketed in the US by Sandoz, the generics division of Swiss drug giant Novartis AG. Pfizer said it could repurchase all Kerydin rights from Sandoz at the end of next year.

Boards of both companies have approved the deal, which is expected to close in the third quarter.

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