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Pfizer pumps $600m into venture fund, targeting neuroscience

Published on 07/06/18 at 12:39pm

Pfizer’s move to dump its neuroscience divisions caused serious ripples through the industry, with many wondering whether it heralded an end of big pharma’s interest in the notoriously difficult to target disease area, which includes the elusive targets of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The pharma giant has now revealed it's back with an interest in neuroscience but not in the same capacity as previously. Instead of having its own neuroscience division, it has given its venture capital fund, Pfizer Ventures, $600 million to play with and promised to invest $150 million of that into neuroscience targets.

The company should have freed up a fair amount of capital, after it shed 300 jobs as a result of the neuroscience closure – alongside the discontinued development of pipeline candidates and their subsequent sell-off.

“By changing the way we invest in neuroscience, we hope to support an energised community of biotech entrepreneurs who are progressing the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of neurologic diseases and help advance potential treatments for people with neurological conditions,” said Denis Patrick, Vice President, Pfizer Worldwide Research and Development and Managing Partner of Pfizer Ventures.

Taking this backseat approach to working in the neuroscience area could take away a significant amount of the risk in developing neuroscience candidates. Pfizer is only too familiar with the cost of failure on its own books, after a series of failures trying to bring to market an Alzheimer’s treatment.

The fund does not solely focus on neuroscience, and Pfizer revealed that $450 million would be made available to expand the investment portfolio it currently holds, with over 40 companies on its books.

The fund had previously received $500 million in investment, taking the fund to well over the billion mark.

Ben Hargreaves

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