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Pfizer begins sell-off, shedding CNS drug to Biogen for $590m

Published on 13/03/18 at 08:20am

Pfizer’s decision to back out of the neuroscience space was a strategic move that send shudders through the entire industry, and the first portfolio ramification has now been realised with the sale of an asset to a rival.

Biogen has picked up PF-04958242 for $75 million upfront with an additional $515 million in milestones locked into development and commercialisation successes; Pfizer will also be due royalty payment in the low- to mid-teen percentages, should the treatment reach market.

The treatment itself is a potential treatment for the cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia. It works by targeting the AMPA receptors, which “mediate fast excitatory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system”.

The therapy had already made it through to Phase 1b trials and Biogen announced that they would look to initiate a Phase 2b trial in the second half of 2018.

“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,” said Michael Ehlers, EVP, Research & Development at Biogen. “Cognition can be impaired in multiple neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia. And we know that the extent of cognitive deficits in patients with schizophrenia is a strong predictor of daily functioning. We look forward to quickly pursuing development of this potential innovative therapy to treat such a devastating disease.”

While other companies are hesitant about the CNS area, Biogen is clearly doubling down on its position; it’s not an approach that is inspiring confidence with investors, especially after last month’s release on its Alzheimer’s prospect.

The release of its purchase of Pfizer’s drug similarly saw a downward tick on its share price, dipping by close to 2% on the news.

Ben Hargreaves

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