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Biogen to acquire Pfizer’s schizophrenia drug for up to $590m

PBR Staff Writer Published 13 March 2018

Biogen has agreed to buy Pfizer's investigational schizophrenia drug, PF-04958242, in a deal worth about $590m.

PF-04958242, which is ready for phase 2b development, is an AMPA receptor potentiator, developed for treating cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia (CIAS).

AMPA receptors restore excitatory synaptic transmission process in the central nervous system. In several neurological and psychiatric diseases like schizophrenia, this process can be disrupted.

Under the terms of the deal, Biogen will make an upfront payment of $75m. Pfizer will also be eligible to receive up to $515m for additional development and commercialization milestone payments, and royalties.

PF-04958242 has cleared phase 1b clinical trials in the past, having registered an acceptable safety profile and treatment effect trends in multiple domains of cognition.

Biogen wants to start a phase 2b trial for the schizophrenia drug candidate in the second half of this year.

Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos said: “As pioneers in neuroscience, Biogen continues to explore new ways to treat serious diseases where there are few or no options, such as CIAS.

“Given the significant unmet patient need and Biogen’s ability to apply its scientific expertise in this area, we are enthusiastic to advance development of this asset as we continue to expand our neuroscience pipeline, including in our emerging growth areas such as neuropsychiatry.”

Biogen said cognitive impairment is increasingly regarded as one of the greatest unmet needs in the effective treatment of schizophrenia.

Globally, there are more than 20 million people suffering from the neurological disorder with a majority of them living with some extent of cognitive impairment resulting from the disease.

Biogen research & development executive vice president Michael Ehlers said: “When cognition is impaired, you lose the ability to make sense of the world. Things we often take for granted in our daily lives, including processing information, planning and remembering, all become difficult or impossible.”

Subject to meeting of customary closing conditions, the drug's purchase is expected to be completed in the second quarter of this year.

Image: Pfizer World Headquarters in Manhattan, New York pictured in 2016. Photo: courtesy of Coolcaesar/Wikipedia.org.