Pfizer has agreed to buy NextWave Pharmaceuticals for $680m in a deal that would bring it a franchise in drugs to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The pharma giant took a $20m option to merge with NextWave earlier this year and has now followed that up with a full acquisition offer of $255m, plus sales milestones of up to $425m. Pfizer said the transaction is expected to close later this year.
The primary asset held by NextWave is Quillivant XR (methylphenidate HCl), an extended-release ADHD drug in a child-friendly liquid formulation that can be given just once a day before school.
The product fills a void in ADHD treatment as it provides an alternative to tablets or capsules for patients who have difficulty taking them, but also provides cover for the entire day with a single dose, thereby avoiding any stigma that may be associated with taking medicines in school.
The product was developed in partnership with drug delivery specialist Tris Pharma and has just been granted marketing approval in the US, with NextWave holding exclusive marketing rights in North America.
Quillivant XR's clinical profile should help it make inroads into a global ADHD market estimated to be worth around $4bn and growing at 8 per cent a year, according to GlobalData estimates.
The market in the US has been dominated for some time by Shire - with products such as Daytrana (methylphenidate; now divested to Noven Pharma), Vyvanse (lisdexamfetamine) and Intuniv (guanfacine) - and Johnson & Johnson with its Concerta (methylphenidate) product.
Generic versions of older ADHD drugs such as Shire's Adderall XR (mixed amphetamine salts) are starting to change the dynamics of the market, however. Meanwhile, with even second-generation therapies such as Concerta now facing patent expiry, newer products will need clear advantages - as well as marketing muscle - to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
In addition to Quillivant XR, NextWave is developing a chewable tablet formulation of methylphenidate - codenamed NWP09 - that is due to be filed for approval in 2013.