Latest News  
  June 20,  2005
Volume 83, Number 25
p. 16


  Pfizer To Buy Vicuron
Biopharmaceutical firm would bolster drug giant's position in anti-infectives

Hank McKinnell


Pfizer has agreed to buy Vicuron Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company specializing in anti-infection therapies for hospital- and community-acquired infections, for $1.9 billion in cash. The deal would give Pfizer two drugs in clinical trials at a time when sales of its lead anti-infection drug, Diflucan, are plunging because patent protection expired last year.

Pfizer will pay $29.10 per share. The price represents a 74% premium over Vicuron's 90-day-average closing share price.

Vicuron, based in King of Prussia, Pa., recently reported positive Phase III results for anidulafungin, an antifungal therapy. The company's other drug in late-stage trials, dalbavancin, a treatment for skin and soft tissue infection, is currently in priority review at the Food & Drug Administration. The review is on track to be completed in September.

"This transaction builds on Pfizer's extensive experience in anti-infectives and demonstrates our commitment to strengthen and broaden our pharmaceutical business through strategic product acquisitions," says Hank McKinnell, chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer.

George F. Horner III, CEO of Vicuron, points to the benefits of Pfizer's marketing capabilities. "We believe this transaction is in the best interests of our shareholders and will enable Vicuron's two near-term products to utilize Pfizer's capabilities in order to fully achieve their potential," he says.

McKinnell says Vicuron's anidulafungin will complement Pfizer's Vfend, a treatment for fungal and yeast infections, which was introduced in 2002. Diflucan, Pfizer's first major anti-infective therapy, debuted in 1992. The world market for anti-infectives is estimated by Deutsche Bank to be about $26 billion.

Pfizer and Vicuron have already collaborated on the development of oxazolidinones, the first new class of antibiotics in more than 30 years.

Pfizer, like other major drug firms, is under increasing pressure from patent expirations. For example, the patent for its blockbuster antibiotic Zithromax expires this year. Norvasc, Pfizer's blood pressure therapy, goes off patent in 2007, and its anticholesterol drug Lipitor, the best selling drug in the world, is set to expire by 2011.

  Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2005