Biogen poaches Pfizer dealmaker Dan Karp for stepped-up M&A push

Biogen is seeking deals as competition to its MS franchise mounts. (Biogen)

Want to get serious about business development? Take a page from Pfizer’s playbook—and that’s exactly what Biogen is doing.

On Thursday, the big biotech said it had brought on Pfizer veteran Dan Karp as its EVP of corporate development, ending his stint as the pharma giant’s VP of worldwide business development and head of R&D business development. For Biogen, Karp will lead a newly minted “corporate development function,” spanning business development and corporate strategy, the company said.

Read: Dealmaking, at a time when Biogen needs to continue racking up transactions to beef up R&D and revenue both.

Pfizer, never one to shy away from a transaction and famous for its willingness to jump into a megamerger, sees plenty of deal activity, which is just what Biogen’s seeking. The company touted Karp’s “strong track record of success leading licensing and M&A transactions,” while CEO Michel Vounatsos—to whom Karp will directly report—praised the “solid experience” that will “serve him well in this exciting position as we aim to further build our pipeline and portfolio.”

RELATED: Biogen looks to M&A to overcome competition to its MS franchise

Biogen is looking for new revenue streams as competition to its multiple sclerosis portfolio heats up. Last year, Roche piled on the pressure with the approval of blockbuster-to-be Ocrevus, and forthcoming generic versions of Gilenya—a Novartis rival to Biogen’s oral star Tecfidera—will make matters worse next year.

Last April, the company shelled out $300 million upfront and up to $410 million in milestones to gain access to a Bristol-Myers Squibb's progressive supranuclear palsy and Alzheimer’s candidate, a move R&D head Michael Ehlers called “just the beginning of a set of very rigorous but highly active deals.”

And since then, it’s struck a series of other deals, including buys of Remedy’s phase 3 stroke drug and Karyopharm's neurology and inflammation candidate, as well as a $1 billion pact on discovery-stage R&D with Ionis. Earlier this year, rumors also listed Biogen as a potential buyer for activist-pressured Acorda, though so far no deal has taken place.