Pfizer has been looking for assets in the biopharmaceutical space to expand its pipeline thanks to the big money it has made from COVID-19. Now, the drugmaker appears to have its sights set on Global Blood Therapeutics and its marketed sickle cell drug Oxbryta.
On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer was considering a $5 billion acquisition of GBT. The newspaper, citing people familiar with the matter, said the matter was not settled because other potential acquirers other than Pfizer could still try to buy the company.
GBT has not yet responded to market rumors and speculation.
Affected by this rumor, GBT had a hot week in the stock market. The company’s stock opened at $32.40 on Monday and traded above $67 on Friday afternoon, up more than 100%.
The company’s lead product is Oxbryta (voxelotor), which was approved by the FDA in 2019 for adults and children with sickle cell disease (SCD) 12 years of age and older. In 2021, Oxbryta is approved for the treatment of sickle cell disease in patients 4 to 12 years old. This makes Oxbryta the first FDA-approved drug to treat children with SCD. In the first quarter of 2022, Oxbryta generated $55 million in revenue. GBT will report second-quarter earnings on Monday.
Oxbryta isn’t the only sickle cell treatment for GBT. In June this year, the company’s investigational products, inlacumab and GBT021601, were granted orphan drug designation and rare pediatric disease designation by the FDA for the treatment of SCD. Inclacumab is a novel p-selectin inhibitor currently in Phase III studies to evaluate its potential to reduce the risk of vaso-occlusive crises (VOCs) and readmissions in patients with sickle cell disease . GBT601 is a next-generation inhibitor of sickle hemoglobin polymerization and is being evaluated in the Phase II phase of a Phase II/III program.
As for Pfizer, it has been busy with mergers and acquisitions in the biopharmaceutical space after making a fortune amid a massive pandemic. In a recent deal, Pfizer bought most of Biohaven’s business for $11.6 billion. With the acquisition, Pfizer will gain access to Biohaven’s emerging migraine drug Nurtec.
The acquisition of Biohaven follows Pfizer’s $6.7 billion acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals in December 2021 and its $525 million acquisition of RSV treatment biotech ReViral.