Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pfizer Finds Fountain of Youth

It flows from $cratching:

"Pfizer to buy skin drug maker Anacor for $5.2 billion" by Linda A. Johnson Associated Press  May 16, 2016

TRENTON, N.J. — Pfizer is fortifying its key immunology and inflammation drug business, snapping up a small maker of skin treatments for about $5.2 billion, weeks after the Treasury Department torpedoed Pfizer’s planned $160 billion deal for Allergan PLC.

Pfizer Inc.’s agreement on Monday to acquire Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc., a money-losing developer of topical skin treatments, is the latest move by the biggest US-based drug maker in a years-long struggle to accelerate growth.

Pfizer, known for Viagra and the pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13, had been counting on acquiring Dublin-based Allergan and moving its headquarters — on paper — from New York to Ireland to reduce its tax bill. But on April 5 Treasury issued rules governing ‘‘tax-inversion’’ deals, removing the financial incentives for buying Allergan.

With California-based Anacor, Pfizer gains an experimental eczema treatment that could be approved by the Food and Drug Administration by January, plus US rights to the topical toenail fungus treatment Kerydin and a portfolio of other drugs in early testing.

If approved, the topical eczema medicine, crisaborole, would be the first new medication type in 15 years for eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. About 18 million to 25 million people in the United States have the chronic skin disorder, which causes inflammation and itching, often lasting two weeks or more.

Pfizer, which sells the blockbuster drug Enbrel for plaque psoriasis and other immune disorders, said peak annual sales of crisaborole could reach or exceed $2 billion.

Albert Bourla, group president of Pfizer’s vaccines, oncology, and consumer health care businesses, called the buyout attractive because there are few safe topical eczema treatments.

Anacor holds rights to Kerydin, which is marketed in the United States by Sandoz, the generics division of Swiss drug giant Novartis AG....


"‘Second skin’ goes on over your real skin to smooth your wrinkles" by Ike Swetlitz, May 9, 2016

It starts out like any one of a number of anti-aging treatments: rub some goo on your face, wait for it to dry. But this isn’t a skin cream or wrinkle serum, it’s an invisible polymer “second skin” that dries to tighten wrinkles and reduce skin sagging.

“You put it on as an ointment, and it becomes a patch,” said Robert Langer, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a founder of Olivo Laboratories, the company developing the fake skin. Researchers detailed the technology in a new paper published Monday.

Put on as a daily mask, the skin becomes a kind of temporary cosmetic intervention. Further out, its developers hope the fake skin could be loaded with medications that would be absorbed through a person’s real skin.

To put on the skin, you apply two gels. The first is clear; the second, cloudy. As the gels dry, they harden into a flexible film that sticks onto your real skin not unlike the clear part of a temporary tattoo. After a few hours, it’s difficult to see the boundary between the two — the silicon-based material is specially designed with a matte finish so that it doesn’t draw attention. This stands in contrast to conventional patches, which may be transparent but are still visible.

As the gels dry to form the artificial skin, it pulls on and changes the shape of the real skin, and, with the proper application, could hide wrinkles or other properties associated with aging skin. In the paper, the authors demonstrated that the artificial skin was effective at removing bags and smoothing wrinkles under the eyes.

“Nobody dies of under-eye bags,” acknowledged Dr. Barbara Gilchrest, a dermatologist at Harvard Medical School and author of the paper, published in Nature Materials. But they do have social consequences for people. “It makes them look old. It makes them look tired. It makes them look sad. In our society, it’s considered very unattractive, and it’s a marker of aging.” 

It's the effect go blogging for ten years.

For medical use, Langer said that the artificial skin has many advantages over products currently on the market. You can change the properties of the film — for example, its thickness, breathability, or elasticity — depending on the desired effect. You can also spread it over as large or small an area as you want. Currently, people who wear medicinal patches — like NicoDerm— are limited by commercially available sizes.

For some conditions, like eczema and psoriasis, the area needing treatment may span much of the body, in which case an easily applied, drug-laden artificial skin could be a much better treatment option than a current approach, of slathering on a cream and wrapping the body in a kind of plastic wrap, Gilchrest said.

Samir Mitragotri, who studies drug delivery through the skin in his lab at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said he hadn’t before seen any material so transparent and so effective at changing the mechanical properties of the skin. Mitragotri, who was not involved in the study, called the approach “radical and revolutionary.”

The fake skin is in human trials, with a couple hundred individuals already tested. The company is working on developing the skin as a platform, after which they could decide to customize it by adding drugs.

Amir Nashat, acting chief executive officer of Olivo and managing partner at venture capital firm Polaris Partners, said the company is spending the majority of its time focusing on the medical application of the second skin. On a further horizon, the paper noted, those might include “durable ultraviolet protection” or using the skin to conceal disfiguring birthmarks.

But at present, the main thrust of the research they’ve published is cosmetic. It’s part of an over $60 billion cosmetics industry, which taps into an age-old desire for humans to retain their youthfulness....


Time to shed these:

"Cambridge is central to Pfizer’s future" by Robert Weisman Globe Staff  April 13, 2016

CAMBRIDGE — Pfizer Inc.’s future is murky after its $160 billion merger with Allergan PLC fell apart, but one thing is clear: Its Cambridge research center will play a pivotal role in drug discovery, regardless of how the company moves forward.

The blockbuster deal was called off when the US Treasury Department issued new rules that would have prevented the combined companies from capitalizing on the lower corporate tax rate in Allergan’s home country, Ireland.


"An inversion is a sophisticated piece of financial engineering in which a US company buys a foreign firm, and then moves its headquarters to an overseas location where corporate taxes are lower. In the short run, some of the biggest winners are the investment bankers and lawyers who profit from working on these transactions."

Don't we all exist to serve their wealth, I mean, health?

Pfizer chief executive Ian Read said the New York-based company was reconsidering an earlier plan to unlock “shareholder value” by separating its established franchises, which sell approved drugs, from its “innovative” businesses that develop medicines.

While a decision isn’t expected till the end of the year, Cambridge has already emerged as Pfizer’s innovation capital.

Its center here, which tests experimental drugs and forges outside partnerships in four of Pfizer’s six research areas, formally opened in June 2014, when the company consolidated scientists dispersed at several area sites in a new building leased from MIT at 610 Main St.

An adjoining Pfizer research building, called 610 North, is scheduled to open early next year and house other Pfizer researchers as well as independent biotech startups in collaboration space modeled after the Lab Central incubator next door. Together, the two buildings will employ nearly 1,000 people in a 500,000-square-foot “unified research campus.”

“It will have a leading impact on our portfolio when it comes to innovation,” said Mikael Dolsten, president of Pfizer’s worldwide research and development. “We are very optimistic about what the Cambridge group will be doing. And Cambridge will be one-stop shopping for biotech companies and academic scientists who want to engage with us.”

Most of the world’s pharmaceutical heavyweights have similarly set up outposts in Cambridge to monitor the local research scene, strike scientific alliances, and fund and license promising therapies.

The site will be on display Thursday when Dolsten and other senior executives outline their vision and strategy at a Pfizer Pharma Day presentation before Massachusetts life sciences leaders. Among other things, they’ll discuss drug research programs within key therapeutic areas and Pfizer’s new approach, which combines in-house science with outside alliances.

“What we don’t want to be is the partner who just whips out the checkbook,” said Michael Ehlers, the senior vice president for biotherapeutics research who took over last May as site head for the Cambridge research center. “We are here to do discovery science and early clinical research as well as partnering and bringing in great assets from the outside.”

For Pfizer, the largest US pharmaceutical company, Cambridge has become the second-largest research site, after its sprawling campus in Groton, Conn., which it has gradually been shrinking.

Think they will move the whole shebang to Bo$ton?

Ehlers, who initially worked for Pfizer in Groton as chief scientific officer for neuroscience research, moved his group to Massachusetts in 2012. The neuroscience team was the first to set up shop in the new Cambridge research center, where it can more easily collaborate with dozens of academic research labs and biotech startups in the neighborhood.

The new research center features open architecture and a hipper culture more akin to Kendall Square’s entrepreneurial startups than the closed-door research at Pfizer’s traditional campuses. Pfizer hosts Cambridge forums to share ideas with its research neighbors, and it even built a lab with black walls dubbed the “pink flamingo lounge.”

In addition to neuroscience, Cambridge is ground zero for Pfizer’s research into rare diseases, inflammation and immunology, and cardiovascular and metabolic conditions.

Pfizer, with about 2,000 employees in Massachusetts, also does protein engineering and biotech research and manufacturing in Andover and operates a Center for Therapeutic Innovation in Boston’s Longwood Medical Area, where it works with university researchers. (Its cancer research is based in California, and its vaccines research in Pearl River, N.Y.)


Now about Allergan:

Pfizer, Allergan pondering a tieup
Pfizer, Dublin-based Allergan in ‘friendly’ talks on record deal
Pfizer close to acquiring Allergan for $380 per share
Pfizer, Allergan to merge in $150 billion deal

Not $o fa$t!

"Pfizer-Allergan deal reportedly killed after new inversion rules" Globe Wire Services  April 05, 2016

Pfizer Inc. and and Allergan Plc will mutually end their planned $160 billion merger amid the US crackdown on corporate inversions, CNBC reported Tuesday night, without naming its sources.

Trump wants to put a 35% tariff (and tax) on them, which is why Wall Street hates him.

Allergan, which is run from New Jersey but has a legal domicile in Dublin, last year agreed to merge with Pfizer Inc. in a $160 billion deal that would give New York-based Pfizer a foreign address and a lower tax rate. Representatives for Pfizer and Allergan declined to comment.

The Treasury Department said Monday that new rules would limit companies’ ability to participate in inversion transactions if they’ve already done them within the past 36 months. Allergan has been involved in several such acquisitions in that time frame. In a corporate inversion, a US company merges with a smaller foreign firm and then transfers the new company’s tax address offshore.

Pfizer has been examining how it might be able to challenge new rules from the US Treasury Department, Bloomberg News reported earlier Wednesday, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Fighting the decision in court was one of the options under discussion, as well as restructuring the deal to reduce what Pfizer would pay, the people said.

Earlier in the day, investors seemed to view the deal as dead, and were trading shares in the two companies at a furious pace Tuesday.

Tax inversions and the need to overhaul the US tax structure have become a hot issue in the presidential campaign, with some candidates calling Pfizer and other companies considering such deals ‘‘unpatriotic.’’ President Obama held a news conference Tuesday afternoon, saying the Treasury rules are meant to prevent ‘‘one of the most insidious tax loopholes out there’’ and prevent wealthy corporations from shirking their tax responsibility.

In an inversion, a big company buys a smaller one in another country, usually with a lower tax rate, then moves the combined company’s address on paper — but little else — to that country. Allergan is the result of multiple inversions, and despite its Dublin address is operated from offices in Parsippany, N.J.

Shares also fell Tuesday for other companies that have been planning inversion deals: Milwaukee-based Johnson Controls Inc. and Ireland’s Tyco International, makers of heating and other building control systems that announced a $14.6 billion deal in January, and drugmakers Baxalta Inc. of Bannockburn, Ill., and Shire PLC of Ireland, which are planning a $32 billion inversion deal.


Shire still eyes Baxalta takeover, despite chilly response
Trial data on eye drug buoy stock of Shire PLC
Baxalta shares rise on report of sweetened Shire offer
Shire ramps up buying spree with $5.9 billion deal for Dyax
Amid takeover rumors, Baxalta opens new Kendall Square research center
Baxalta deal will boost Mass. operations, Shire CEO says
Baxalta to stay in Cambridge
Shire to expand Kendall Square research outpost acquired in Baxalta buyout

The $32 billion deal is still in limbo.

As for Pfizer, experts disagree on what its Plan B will be and on its value and future prospects without the deal....


Plan B:

After failed Allergan merger, Pfizer once again considers splitting up
Pfizer CEO looks for more deals as drug maker mulls split
Pfizer Blocks the Use of Its Drugs in Executions
Pfizer doubling patient income limit for free drug program 

Isn't that how they hook you?

Mass. whistleblower shares $98m payment in Pfizer settlement

Speaking of whi$tleblowing:

"Allergan unit to pay $125 million to settle alleged bribe scheme; Firm to pay after US claims it wooed doctors to use drugs; Mass. physician indicted" by Priyanka Dayal McCluskey Globe Staff  October 29, 2015

The drug reps bought the doctors lunches, dinners, drinks. They paid for speeches the doctors never made. And in exchange, the doctors prescribed drugs that boosted their sales.

Warner Chilcott, a unit of pharmaceutical giant Allergan PLC, will pay $125 million to settle these and other charges in an agreement announced Thursday by US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz in Boston.

Ortiz said the company ran an elaborate scheme to prod doctors — including in Massachusetts — to prescribe its drugs in exchange for kickbacks....


Also see:

"Allergan will buy back up to $10 billion in stock following a swing to a first-quarter profit on a strong surge in sales of key drugs, including the wrinkle and muscle spasm treatment Botox. The share buyback plan is contingent on the sale of the drug developer’s generics unit to Teva, which is expected to close by the end of the year. Meanwhile, the company is consolidating its executive team under current CEO Brent Saunders. The announcement came as the Dublin-based company swung to a first-quarter profit of $255.7 million, or 47 cents per share, after reporting a loss in the same period a year earlier."

Teva is an Israeli firm, and that can only help the payout. 

Time to put some cream on.

UPDATE: Pfizer to expand operations in Andover