Pfizer to pay Biohaven $11.6 bln
FILE PHOTO: A person walks past the Pfizer Headquarters building in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., December 7, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Pfizer said on Tuesday it will pay $11.6 billion to buy Biohaven Pharmaceuticals, making a big bet on its ability to boost sales of the top-selling pill in a new class of migraine drugs.

The boards of both companies have approved the deal, they said. Biohaven shares jumped 70 per cent to $141.31, while Pfizer was up slightly at $48.83.

Pfizer is flush with cash from a once-in-a-lifetime surge in revenue from Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics and has said it is looking to buy companies or drugs that could add at least $25 billion in annual sales by the end of the decade.

“The CGRP oral medications, though still somewhat newer entrants in a deeply entrenched space, continue to make steady inroads in disrupting the broader migraine market in the U.S.,” said BioHaven chief executive Vlad Coric.

Biohaven forecast Nurtec sales of $825 million to $900 million in 2022.

Pfizer said it expects the pills to eventually overtake the shots.

The deal adds a “breakthrough migraine franchise into our portfolio, which we can then enhance and bring to even more patients with our commercial capabilities,” Pfizer Chief Business Innovation Office Aamir Malik said on a conference call.

Pfizer said it will double the size of Nurtec’s sales force, which will allow it to call on 70,000 additional doctors in the United States. It projected that CGRP inhibitor pills will eventually represent around 40 per cent of prescriptions for migraine drugs, up from around five per cent currently.

The Biohaven deal is Pfizer’s largest since its $14 billion purchase of cancer drugmaker Medivation in 2016.

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