Vicuron approves Pfizer merger

By Wai Lang Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pfizer Pharmacology

Vicuron Pharmaceuticals announced that its stockholders have voted
to approve the merger agreement with the world's biggest drug maker

Pfizer had announced in June that it had initially agreed to a $1.9 billion (é1.6 billion) deal to acquire US biopharmaceutical company, Vicuron. The closing of the transaction is expected to occur in the third quarter.

Final confirmation of the drug giant's intention to purchase Vicuron is seen by industry analysts as another attempt to bolster its position in the anti-infective market in which it is already a leader.

Pfizer​ has seen sales of its leading anti-infective, Diflucan, falter as patent protection had expired last year. Under terms of the agreement, the deal would give Pfizer two drugs, which are currently awaiting the outcome of New Drug Applications filed with the FDA.

A decision is expected in September for Dalbavancin, an antibiotic for treating skin and soft-tissue infections; and in November for Anidulafungin, an experimental antifungal medication, which Vicuron​ recently reported positive Phase III results.

Under the financial terms of the deal, Pfizer will pay $29.10 per share in cash, for an aggregate equity purchase price of approximately $1.9 billion.

On a strategic level, the induction of Anidulafungin to Pfizer's anti-infectives portfolio will complement Vfend - the company's drug therapy for fungal and yeast infections that was introduced in 2002.

The market for anti-infection treatments is $26 billion, according to Deutsche Bank analysts. Almost 2 million patients in the US get an infection while in hospital each year, with about 90,000 die each year as a result, according to the US Centres for Disease Control. More than 70 per cent of the bacteria are resistant to at least one of the common treatments.

Pfizer already has an existing collaboration with Vicuron in which the partnership into potential next-generation oxazolidinones has yielded compounds earmarked for further clinical development. Oxazolidinones are the first new class of antibiotics in more than 30 years.

However, traditional antibiotic classes, such as the mature macrolide class, will continue to decline in market value as the segment becomes highly genericised.

Pfizer's decision to enter the market for newer classes of these drugs, which include the oxazolidinones and additionally carbapenems, will likely show excellent growth as antibiotic resistance continues to be a growing problem for older agents.

Additionally, Pfizer, like most other drug companies, is facing increasing pressure from patent expirations. Pfizer currently sells Zithromax, the largest selling antibiotic in the world and Zyvox, a oxazolidinone targeted at more serious Gram-positive infections. Norvasc.

Pfizer's blood pressure therapy, goes off patent in 2007 and its anticholesterol drug Lipitor, the best selling drug in the world is set to expire by 2011.

In related news, Pfizer is also in the process of acquiring antibody specialists, Bioren for an undisclosed amount.

As part of the purchase, Pfizer will inherit Bioren's Walk-Through Mutagenesis (WTM) and Look-Through Mutagenesis (LTM) technologies to improve the drug development of antibodies.

"The ability to use and develop these technologies will help Pfizer identify new antibody leads as well as improve current antibodies in development," said Nick Saccomano, Pfizer's senior vice president for Worldwide Research Technology.

Related topics Preclinical Research

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