Pfizer Adds Eczema Gel With $5B Anacor Deal

If Anacor's treatment for eczema is approved by the FDA, Pfizer predicts peak-year sales could exceed $2 billion.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMay 16, 2016

Pfizer said Monday it had agreed to buy Anacor Pharmaceuticals for about $5.2 billion, strengthening its drug portfolio with an experimental treatment for eczema.

Anacor’s non-steroidal topical gel, crisaborole, is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of mild to moderate eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis.

Pfizer will pay $99.25 per share for Anacor, a 55% premium to its closing price on Friday. The stock rose above the offer price, to $100.49, in trading Monday.

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“We believe the acquisition of Anacor represents an attractive opportunity to address a significant unmet medical need for a large patient population with mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis, which currently has few safe topical treatments available,” Albert Bourla, a group president for Pfizer, said in a news release.

“Crisaborole … has the potential to be an important first-line treatment option for these patients and the physicians who treat them,” he added.

Pfizer predicted that, if the FDA approves crisaborole, peak year sales for the treatment could reach or exceed $2 billion. No new molecules for eczema, a condition that affects 18 million to 25 million people in the U.S., have been approved in the past 15 years.

According to Reuters, the deal suggests Pfizer is adjusting its acquisition strategy after scrapping its $160 billion bid for Allergan, shifting from lowering taxes to “strengthening its drugs portfolio ahead of a decision on selling or spinning off its generic medicines business by late 2016.”

“The recent pullback in valuations of biotech firms could stimulate Pfizer’s appetite for deals,” Reuters said, adding that the company is also reported to be in talks to buy cancer drug maker Medivation.

Pfizer’s current inflammation and immunology drugs portfolio includes Enbrel and Xeljanz. Anacor also owns the rights to Kerydin, a topical treatment for toenail fungus that is distributed by Sandoz in the U.S.

“We have a deep respect for Pfizer, and it is clear that they share our commitment to addressing the significant unmet medical needs in inflammatory disease,” Anacor CEO Paul L. Berns said.