is in talks to acquire biotech Seagen Inc.,
according to people familiar with the matter, the latest potential deal for a major pharmaceutical company focused on adding a promising class of targeted cancer therapies.
Talks are at an early stage and there is no guarantee a deal will be reached, the people said. A number of hurdles would need to be overcome, including the possibility of rigorous antitrust scrutiny of any proposal. If a deal comes along, it would be big: Seagen has a market value of about $30 billion and was expected to get a premium for that.
Seagen was in advanced talks last year to be acquired by Merck MRK -0.63%
& Co., in a deal that would have been worth $40 billion or more, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time, but the two sides failed to come to an agreement. Pfizer was also looking at Seagen at the time, people familiar with the matter say.
After talks with Merck fell through last year, Seagen named David Epstein, a former Novartis AG
executive who more recently served as chief executive partner at venture capitalist Flagship Pioneering.
A deal would help Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies with sales of $100 billion last year, add to its line of cancer treatments a class of agents that have shown promise to work with so-called immunotherapies against some of the most common tumours.
It could also help Pfizer offset $17 billion in sales that the company expects to lose due to patent expiration in 2030. Pfizer has set a goal of adding $25 billion in revenue by the end of the decade. add from business development movements, including acquisitions. Seagen had sales of nearly $2 billion last year.
New York-based Pfizer is full of cash. The drugmaker has about $22.7 billion from sales of its Covid-19 vaccines, drugs and other products.
Last year, Pfizer acquired sickle cell drug maker Global Blood Therapeutics Inc. left for more than $5 billion and the remainder of Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holdings Co. for more than $10 billion.
Seagen, of Bothell, Washington, helped pioneer a class of cancer therapy known as antibody conjugates that works like a guided missile that attacks tumors with toxins.
The therapies were approved for cancers such as Hodgkin’s disease and other lymphomas, and more recently have shown promise in combination with an immunotherapy against other types of tumors, including breast cancer.
The potential in breast cancer could be especially attractive to Pfizer, which has a top-selling drug called Ibrance that treats the condition.
The Food and Drug Administration assesses whether to approve a combination of the Padcev antibody drug conjugate from Seagen and Astellas Pharma Inc.,
and Merck’s Keytruda immunotherapy for the treatment of advanced bladder cancer.
Write to Jared S. Hopkins at email@example.com and Jonathan D. Rockoff at Jonathan.Rockoff@wsj.com
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