Pfizer Makes Cancer Play With Medivation Deal

The $14 billion acquisition would add the best-selling prostate cancer drug Xtandi to Pfizer's growing oncology portfolio.
Matthew HellerAugust 22, 2016

Pfizer said Monday it had agreed to acquire biotech firm Medivation for $14 million, adding the blockbuster prostate cancer drug Xtandi to its oncology portfolio as it considers whether to split into two companies.

Pfizer expects the acquisition will build upon its success with the breast cancer drug Ibrance and transform it into “a leading oncology company.” It will pay $81.50 a share, a 21% premium to the closing stock price Friday, for Medivation, which had also been pursued by suitors including Celgene, Gilead, and French drugmaker Sanofi.

Xtandi was approved four years ago to treat men who had failed to benefit from prostate cancer treatments. It already generates about $2 billion in yearly sales and has the potential to more than double, according to analysts.

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“The addition of Medivation will strengthen Pfizer’s Innovative Health business and accelerate its pathway to a leadership position in oncology, one of our key focus areas, which we believe will drive greater growth and scale of that business over the long term,” Pfizer CEO Ian Read said in a news release.

Pfizer also noted that Medivation is developing two other “promising” oncology drugs — talazoparib for breast cancer and pidilizumab for lymphoma.

Pfizer’s $150 billion deal to take over Allergan broke up in April after the Obama administration targeted the proposed combination with new rules. The company is now considering whether to split into two, with one entity selling fast-growing brand-name drugs and another selling drugs that have lost patent protection.

“After the [Allergan] breakup, some analysts said Pfizer needed to do more deals to add patent-protected drugs if that side of the company was to develop the critical mass of revenue it would need to function on its own,” The Wall Street Journal said.

As The Financial Times reports, Pfizer has been slower than some of its competitors to develop cancer drugs and lost out to AbbVie in the race to buy Pharmacyclics last year. Cancer is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s biggest markets with worldwide sales amounting to roughly $80 billion a year and growing more than 10% annually.

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