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Pfizer Closes $43 Billion Seagen Deal, Overhauls Commercial Structure Amid Regulatory Clearance

Pfizer, the New York-based pharmaceutical giant, is set to complete its $43 billion acquisition of cancer drugmaker Seagen this Thursday, approximately nine months after the deal was first announced. The acquisition marks a significant expansion of Pfizer’s oncology portfolio as the company repositions itself in the post-COVID era.

The company also announced leadership appointments for its restructured commercial units. Aamir Malik, Pfizer’s Chief Business Innovation Officer, will lead the U.S. commercial division, while Alexandre de Germay will head the international unit. These changes come as Pfizer aims to create a new oncology division that integrates Seagen’s capabilities.

In regulatory developments, Pfizer has received all necessary approvals for the Seagen deal, with the antitrust waiting period expiring. This follows the company’s decision to donate the rights to royalties from Bavencio, a cancer drug, to the American Association for Cancer Research. This move was part of Pfizer’s efforts to address concerns raised by U.S. antitrust regulators.

Earlier this year, Pfizer had transferred the development and commercialization rights of Bavencio to its partner, Merck KGaA, while retaining a 15% royalty on the drug’s net sales. Bavencio accounted for $271 million in sales for Pfizer in 2022.

The acquisition of Seagen was announced as Pfizer was preparing for an anticipated decline in sales from its COVID products. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which had requested more information on the deal in July, has not commented on Pfizer’s recent announcement.

Angela Hwang, Pfizer’s Chief Commercial Officer, is also set to step down as part of the organizational changes. The company plans to split its commercial business, excluding the oncology segment, into two divisions focused on the U.S. and international markets, respectively.

Driving the merger was Seagen’s robust portfolio of cancer therapies that leverage innovative mechanisms of action. Their approach primarily revolves around targeted therapies that specifically attack cancer cells while sparing healthy cells, thereby reducing side effects and improving patient outcomes.

One of the key mechanisms employed by Seagen is the use of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). ADCs are a class of highly potent biopharmaceutical drugs designed as a targeted therapy for treating cancer. They consist of an antibody linked to a biologically active cytotoxic (anti-cancer) payload or drug. The antibody specifically targets antigens present on the surface of cancer cells, delivering the cytotoxic agent directly to the tumor. This targeted approach allows for higher doses of cytotoxic agents to be used, increasing the efficacy of the treatment while minimizing damage to normal cells.

Seagen’s leading product in its oncology portfolio is Adcetris® (brentuximab vedotin), an ADC that targets CD30, a marker expressed on the surface of several types of lymphoma cells. Adcetris® is used in the treatment of Hodgkin lymphoma and systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma. The drug has shown significant efficacy in shrinking tumors and has become a standard of care in these types of cancers.

Another notable drug in Seagen’s arsenal is Padcev® (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv), an ADC for urothelial cancer, particularly for patients who have previously undergone chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Padcev® targets Nectin-4, a protein found on the surface of urothelial cancer cells, delivering a potent anti-cancer agent to the tumor site.

Tukysa® (tucatinib) is a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor used in combination with other drugs for the treatment of HER2-positive breast cancer. It works by inhibiting the activity of the HER2 protein, which is overexpressed in some breast cancers and promotes the growth of cancer cells.

These brands will immediately help to elevate Pfizer as a strong player in the oncology space, and with numerous promising compounds already in the pipeline, their oncology portfolio should see a steady stream of growth moving forward.

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