Pfizer to buy eczema specialist for $5.2 billion

New York (AFP) –


US drugs giant Pfizer is buying California biotech company Anacor Pharmaceuticals, a specialist in eczema treatment, in an all-cash $5.2 billion deal, the companies said Monday.

Five weeks after scrapping a $160 billion takeover plan with Allergan in the face of a US crackdown on tax-saving mergers, Pfizer announced the Anacor acquisition will add a key anti-inflammatory drug, crisaborole, to its portfolio.

Anacor's crisaborole is currently under review by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of mild-to-moderate atopic dermatitis, often called eczema, an itchy rash on the skin, the companies said in a joint statement.

"Crisaborole is a differentiated asset with compelling clinical data that, if approved, has the potential to be an important first-line treatment option for these patients and the physicians who treat them," said Albert Bourla, president of Pfizer's Global Innovative Pharma and Global Vaccines, Oncology and Consumer Healthcare Businesses.

If the FDA approves the drug, Pfizer said, peak year sales for crisaborole could reach or exceed $2.0 billion.

Anacor, a biotech firm based in Palo Alto, California, also owns the rights to Kerydin, a topical treatment for toenail fungus that is distributed and marketed in the United States by Sandoz, the generics drugs division of Swiss drugs giant Novartis.

Pfizer and Anacor said their respective boards of directors had approved the merger agreement. Under the terms of the deal, Pfizer will pay $99.25 per Anacor share in cash. The transaction is subject to US antitrust clearance.

Shares in Dow member Pfizer were down 0.8 percent at $32.92 in pre-market trade, while Anacor shares soared 54.3 percent to $98.79.

Pfizer, the largest US drug maker, on April 6 withdrew its bid for Allergan, the maker of Botox, after the US Treasury Department enacted regulations to discourage mergers between US and foreign businesses designed to sharply lower US companies' tax bill.

Pfizer may be in the ranks of bidders for US biotech company Medivation, a California developer of anti-cancer therapies which in early May rebuffed a $9.3 bid from French giant Sanofi.

A person familiar with the matter told AFP last week that Medivation had opened the door to being bought by either Pfizer or Amgen.