Pfizer has entered into an agreement to acquire Arena Pharmaceuticals, a clinical-stage pharma firm specializing in developing immuno-inflammatory treatments, for approximately $6.7b USD. Arena’s current portfolio includes a number of development-stage treatment candidates in gastroenterology, dermatology, and cardiology—including etrasimod, an oral, selective sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptor modulator in development for a variety of immuno-inflammatory diseases.
Mike Gladstone, global president and general manager of Pfizer Inflammation and Immunology, said the Arena Pharmaceuticals purchase is in line with Pfizer’s goals in those areas.
“The proposed acquisition of Arena complements our capabilities and expertise in inflammation and immunology, a Pfizer innovation engine developing potential therapies for patients with debilitating immuno-inflammatory diseases with a need for more effective treatment options,” Gladstone said. Utilizing Pfizer’s leading research and global development capabilities, we plan to accelerate the clinical development of etrasimod for patients with immuno-inflammatory diseases.”
“We’re delighted to announce Pfizer’s proposed acquisition of Arena, recognizing Arena’s potentially best in class S1P molecule and our contribution to addressing unmet needs in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases,” said Amit Munshi, Arena’s president and CEO. “Pfizer’s capabilities will accelerate our mission to deliver our important medicines to patients. We believe this transaction represents the best next step for both patients and shareholders.”
Arena reportedly has built up a “robust” development program for etrasimod. Its efforts in that area include two Phase 3 ulcerative colitis (UC) studies in ulcerative colitis, a Phase II/III program in Crohn’s Disease, a planned Phase III atopic dermatitis program, and ongoing Phase II studies in eosinophilic esophagitis and alopecia areata.
In UC, Arena’s randomized, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging, Phase II study (OASIS) evaluated the efficacy and safety of etrasimod in moderate to severe UC patients over 12 weeks versus placebo. In the study, Arena reported, most patients who achieved clinical response, clinical remission, or endoscopic improvement at week 12 experienced sustained or improved effects up to week 46 with etrasimod 2 mg in the open-label extension.
According to Arena, etrasimod also demonstrated a favorable benefit/risk profile, consistent with safety findings reported in the double-blind portion of OASIS. The findings could offer hope for UC patients, as there currently is a significant unmet need for safe, effective oral therapies for patients with inadequate response, loss of response, or intolerance to conventional or advanced therapies. The OASIS trial reportedly supported the advancement of the ELEVATE UC 52 and UC 12 trials, which are currently fully enrolled, and for which data are expected in 2022.
Arena’s also pipeline includes two development-stage cardiovascular assets, temanogrel, and APD418. Temanogrel is currently in Phase II for the treatment of microvascular obstruction and Raynaud's phenomenon secondary to systemic sclerosis. APD418 is currently in Phase II for acute heart failure.
Pfizer reportedly will finance the acquisition of Arena with cash. Under the terms of the merger/acquisition agreement, Pfizer will take up all outstanding shares of Arena common stock for $100 per share.