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Biogen pays $590m for Pfizer cognition drug

Early stage studies look positive for schizophrenia drug

Biogen Idec building

Biogen has added another drug to its neuroscience pipeline, paying $75m upfront for rights to a Pfizer drug in development for cognitive impairment linked to schizophrenia.

The drug - PF-04958242 - is an AMPA receptor potentiator and glycine reuptake inhibitor heading for a phase IIb clinical trial in the second half of this year, and has already shown positive effects on cognition in early-stage studies.

Pfizer was also developing the candidate for age-related hearing loss but has abandoned that programme, and has since said it intends to exit neuroscience R&D altogether, cutting 300 jobs. This is thought to be the first asset sale since that decision.

According to Biogen, there are more than 20m people living with schizophrenia around the world and the majority of them live with some degree of cognitive impairment.

“When cognition is impaired, you lose the ability to make sense of the world,” said Michael Ehlers, Biogen’s head of R&D.

“Things we often take for granted in our daily lives, including processing information, planning and remembering, all become difficult or impossible,” he added, noting that cognition can be impaired in multiple neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases, not just schizophrenia.

Along with the $75m upfront payment, Biogen has agreed to pay Pfizer up to $515m in staged payments tied to development and commercial milestones, as well as low- to mid-teen royalties on sales.

Biogen is making a big R&D play in disease associated with cognitive impairment, and PF-04958242 will slot into its pipeline along with Alzheimer’s candidates aducanumab and E2609 in phase III, BAN2401 in phase II, and three other drugs in early-stage clinical trials.

The biotech company has also been linked to a possible takeover offer for Acorda Therapeutics and its Parkinson’s diseases candidates Inbrija (inhaled levodopa) and SYN-201. Inbrija was resubmitted to the FDA in December after a first filing was turned down by the US regulator, while SYN-201 is currently in phase II development for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease-related dementia.

Article by
Phil Taylor

13th March 2018

From: Research



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