Pfizer to buy Anacor Pharmaceuticals for $5.2 bn

US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc today struck a deal to buy Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc for $5.2 billion in order to add an eczema gel to its portfolio.

The deal comes a month after Pfizer terminated its $160-billion merger with Irish drug firm Allergan, in what would have been the largest-ever merger deal in the pharmaceutical sector, and two years after it abandoned plans to acquire British drug giant AstraZeneca for £69 billion.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, a subsidiary of Pfizer is offering to pay $99.25 per share in cash, a 55-per cent premium to Anacor's Friday closing price. The deal, including debt, is valued at $5.2 billion.

Pfizer expects to fund the transaction through existing cash and does not expect the transaction to impact its current 2016 financial guidance.

Anacor is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercialising novel small-molecule therapeutics derived from its boron chemistry platform.

Anacor's flagship asset, crisaborole, a differentiated non-steroidal topical PDE4 inhibitor with anti-inflammatory properties, is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis, commonly referred to as eczema.

Atopic dermatitis is a common, relapsing, chronic, inflammatory skin disorder, with patients displaying a chronic rash characterised by inflammation and itching, often occurring in folds of the skin with symptoms lasting up to 14 days or more. About 18 to 25 million people in the US suffer from this condition.

Atopic dermatitis has been considerably underdiagnosed due to the lack of approved effective systemic agents, and limitations of current topical agents. There have been no new molecular entities for atopic dermatitis in the last 15 years.

The FDA accepted for review Anacor's New Drug Application for approval of crisaborole for the potential treatment of mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis in children and adults.

If approved, Pfizer believes that the drug has the potential to be an important first-line treatment option for patients with atopic dermatitis and peak year sales for crisaborole have the potential to reach or exceed $2 billion.

Anacor also holds the rights to Kerydin, a topical treatment for onychomycosis (toenail fungus) that is distributed and commercialised by Sandoz Inc. in the US.

Apart from crisaborole and Kerydin, Anacor has discovered three investigational compounds that it has out-licensed for further development. Anacor also has a pipeline of other internally discovered topical and systemic boron-based compounds in early stages of research and development.

Pfizer's portfolio of inflammation and immunology drugs includes Enbrel and Xeljanz. Enbrel's European patents expired in February last year, while its US patents are set to expire in 2028.

''We believe the acquisition of Anacor represents an attractive opportunity to address a significant unmet medical need for a large patient population with mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis, which currently has few safe topical treatments available,'' said Albert Bourla, group president of Pfizer's Global Innovative Pharma and Global Vaccines, Oncology and Consumer Healthcare Businesses.

''Anacor will be a strong fit with Pfizer's innovative business, further supporting our strategic focus on Inflammation and Immunology, and is expected to enhance near-term revenue growth for the innovative business,'' added Bourla.