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Pfizer buys Arena in $6.7bn deal to broaden immuno-inflammatory portfolio

The cash deal includes Arena’s lead candidate, etrasimod, which is currently in trials for ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and atopic dermatitis

Pfizer

Analysts across the industry have been predicting a spending spree in 2022 as big pharmas spend some of their COVID-19 cash but Pfizer is ahead of the game, announcing an agreement to acquire US-based Arena Pharmaceuticals.

Clinical stage company Arena is currently developing several innovative potential therapies for immuno-inflammatory diseases. Its lead candidate, etrasimod – an oral, selective sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptor modulator – is in development across a range of immuno-inflammatory diseases including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

Both boards of directors have approved the move, which will see Pfizer spent $6.7bn of its cash buying Arena at $100 per share.

The focus of the deal is to strengthen Pfizer’s inflammation and immunology capabilities and expertise, a unit led by Mike Gladstone. He said: “Utilising Pfizer’s leading research and global development capabilities, we plan to accelerate the clinical development of etrasimod for patients with immuno-inflammatory diseases.”

Arena has a robust development programme for etrasimod, said Pfizer, listing two phase 3 studies in ulcerative colitis (UC), a phase 2/3 programme in Crohn’s Disease, a planned phase 3 programme in atopic dermatitis and ongoing phase 2 studies in eosinophilic esophagitis and alopecia areata.

“We’re delighted to announce Pfizer’s proposed acquisition of Arena, recognising Arena’s potentially best-in-class S1P molecule and our contribution to addressing unmet needs in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases,” said Arena president and CEO, Amit  Munshi. “Pfizer’s capabilities will accelerate our mission to deliver our important medicines to patients.”

Arena’s pipeline also includes two development-stage cardiovascular candidates, temanogrel and APD418. Temanogrel is in phase 2 for the treatment of microvascular obstruction and Raynaud's phenomenon secondary to systemic sclerosis, while APD418 is in phase 2 for acute heart failure.

Ulcerative colitis is likely to be the first indication Pfizer will seek for etrasimod following positive results from the phase 2, randomised, placebo-controlled study OASIS, looking at the drug in moderate to severe UC patients.

The findings of the trial are encouraging, said Pfizer as ‘there remains significant unmet need for safe and effective oral therapies in UC for patients with inadequate response, loss of response, or intolerance to conventional or advanced therapies’.

Article by
Hugh Gosling

14th December 2021

From: Research

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