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Pfizer buys out Array BioPharma for $11.4 Billion to beef up its oncology offerings

Reporter: Stephen J. Williams, PhD

As reported in FiercePharma.com:

by Angus Liu |

Three years after purchasing Medivation for $14.3 billion, Pfizer is back with another hefty M&A deal. And once again, it’s betting on oncology.

In the first big M&A deal under new CEO Albert Bourla, Pfizer has agreed to buy oncology specialist Array BioPharma for a total value of about $11.4 billion, the two companies unveiled Monday. The $48-per-share offer represents a premium of about 62% to Array stock’s closing price on Friday.

With the acquisition, Pfizer will beef up its oncology offerings with two marketed drugs, MEK inhibitor Mektovi and BRAF inhibitor Braftovi, which are approved as a combo treatment for melanoma and recently turned up positive results in colon cancer.

The buy will enhance the Pfizer innovative drug business’ “long-term growth trajectory,” Bourla said in a Monday statement, dubbing Mektovi-Braftovi “a potentially industry-leading franchise for colorectal cancer.”

RELATED: Array’s ‘extremely compelling’ new colon cancer data spark blockbuster talk

In a recent interim analysis of a trial in BRAF-mutant metastatic colorectal cancer, the pair, used in tandem with Eli Lilly and Merck KGaA’s Erbitux, produced a benefit in 26% of patients, versus the 2% that chemotherapy helped. The combo also showed it could reduce the risk of death by 48%. SVB Leerink analysts at that time called the data “extremely compelling.”

Right now, one in every three new patients with mutated metastatic melanoma is getting the combo, despite its third-to-market behind combos from Roche and Novartis, Andy Schmeltz, Pfizer’s oncology global president, said during an investor briefing on Monday.

It is being studied in more than 30 clinical studies across several solid tumor indications. Moving forward, Pfizer believes the combo could potentially be used in the adjuvant setting to prevent tumor recurrence after surgery, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, Mikael Dolsten, said on the call. The company is also keen to know how it could be paired up with Pfizer’s own investigational PD-1, he said, as the combo is already in studies with other PD-1/L1s.

But as Pfizer execs have previously said, the company’s current business development strategy no longer centers on adding revenues “now or soon,” but rather on strengthening Pfizer’s pipeline with earlier-stage assets. And Array can help there, too.

“We are very excited by Array’s impressive track record of successfully discovering and developing innovative small-molecules and targeted cancer therapies,” Dolsten said in a statement.

On top of Mektovi and Braftovi, Array has a long list of out-licensed drugs that could generate big royalties over time. For example, Vitrakvi, the first drug to get an initial FDA approval in tumors with a particular molecular feature regardless of their location, was initially licensed to Loxo Oncology—which was itself snapped up by Eli Lilly for $8 billion—but was taken over by pipeline-hungry Bayer. There are other drugs licensed to the likes of AstraZeneca, Roche, Celgene, Ono Pharmaceutical and Seattle Genetics, among others.

Those drugs are also a manifestation of Array’s strong research capabilities. To keep those Array scientists doing what they do best, Pfizer is keeping a 100-person team in Colorado as a standalone research unit alongside Pfizer’s existing hubs, Schmeltz said.

Pfizer is counting on Array to augment its leadership in breast cancer, an area championed by Ibrance, and prostate cancer, the pharma giant markets Astellas-partnered Xtandi. For 2018, revenues from the Pfizer oncology portfolio jumped to $7.20 billion—up from $6.06 billion in 2017—mainly thanks to those two drugs.

Source: https://www.fiercepharma.com/pharma/pfizer-never-say-never-m-a-buys-oncology-innovator-array-for-11-4b

 

About Array BioPharma

Array markets BRAFTOVI® (encorafenib) capsules in combination with MEKTOVI® (binimetinib)  tablets for the treatment of patients with unresectable or metastatic melanoma with a BRAFV600E or BRAFV600K  mutation in the United States and with partners in other major worldwide markets.* Array’s lead clinical programs, encorafenib and binimetinib, are being investigated in over 30 clinical trials across a number of solid tumor indications, including a Phase 3 trial in BRAF-mutant metastatic colorectal cancer. Array’s pipeline includes several additional programs being advanced by Array or current license-holders, including the following programs currently in registration trials: selumetinib (partnered with AstraZeneca), LOXO-292 (partnered with Eli Lilly), ipatasertib (partnered with Genentech), tucatinib (partnered with Seattle Genetics) and ARRY-797. Vitrakvi® (larotrectinib, partnered with Bayer AG) is approved in the United States and Ganovo® (danoprevir, partnered with Roche) is approved in China.

 

Other Articles of Note of Pfizer Merger and Acquisition deals on this Open Access Journal Include:

From Thalidomide to Revlimid: Celgene to Bristol Myers to possibly Pfizer; A Curation of Deals, Discovery and the State of Pharma

Pfizer Near Allergan Buyout Deal But Will Fed Allow It?

Pfizer offers legal guarantees over AstraZeneca bid

Re-Creation of the Big Pharma Model via Transformational Deals for Accelerating Innovations: Licensing vs In-house inventions

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