Pfizer in advanced talks to buy firm making sickle cell drugs

Pfizer office in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Pfizer office in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Pfizer Inc is in advanced talks to buy sickle cell drugmaker Global Blood Therapeutics for about $5 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the deal.

Pfizer is aiming to seal a deal in the coming days, but other suitors are still in the mix, the report said.

Shares of Global Blood, which makes a blood disorder drug called Oxbryta, soared 44% in afternoon trade to a two-year high. The company had a market capitalization of $3.12 billion, as of Thursday’s closing price.

Pfizer declined to comment on the report, while a Global Blood spokesperson said it does not “comment on market rumours or speculation”.

New York-based Pfizer, flush with cash from its COVID-19 vaccine, is on the lookout for acquisitions that could bring in billions in annual sales by the end of the decade.

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Its $11.6 billion deal for migraine drug maker Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding (BHVN.N) in May was the latest in a string of acquisitions including Trillium Therapeutics and Arena Pharmaceuticals over recent years.

Global Blood’s Oxbryta was approved in the United States for the treatment of sickle cell disease among patients 12 years and older in 2019. In December, the oral drug received approval for the treatment of the condition in younger patients as well.

Sales of the drug rose more than 50% to $194.7 million in 2021.

Biotech dealmaking activity has picked up again in recent months after a bleak start to the year, when a dearth of major acquisitions and clinical-stage drug failures dampened investor sentiment and squeezed funding.

On Thursday, Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) agreed to buy drugmaker ChemoCentryx Inc for $3.7 billion to gain access to a potential blockbuster treatment for inflammatory disorders.

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