Pfizer reveals reorganization, executive departure as it gets ready to close $43B Seagen buyout

To complete its acquisition of Seagen, what did Pfizer need to do to satisfy antitrust concerns of the Federal Trade Commission?

By agreeing to donate royalties on its U.S. sales of bladder cancer drug Bavencio to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Pfizer has received the go-ahead to finalize its $43 billion buyout of the Seattle biotech, the company said on Tuesday.

Pfizer expects to close the merger on Thursday, it said in a release. The company will conduct a conference call on Wednesday morning to discuss the deal and provide full-year financial guidance for 2024.

Pfizer also revealed a restructuring of its organization, establishing the Pfizer Oncology Division, which will combine oncology commercial and R&D operations. It will be led by Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D., who has been Pfizer’s oncology R&D chief for the last six months.

The new model is “designed to maximize the impact of this transaction and enhance our commercial execution across all the company’s therapeutic areas,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said in the release.

Additionally, under the new setup, which goes into effect on Jan. 1, Pfizer’s non-oncology commercial business will be split into two organizations—one overseeing operations in the U.S. and the other for the rest of the world.

Aamir Malik, who has been Pfizer’s business innovation chief for two-plus years, will take over the U.S. division. Heading up international commercial operations will be Alexandre de Germany, who returns to Pfizer after five years at Sanofi and two at his current post as CEO of Laboratoires Majorelle. De Germany previously spent 21 years at Pfizer, last serving as its Asia Pacific president from 2013-16.

Additionally, Angela Hwang, who has been at Pfizer 27 years including the last five as chief commercial officer, will leave the company. Hwang, honored as one of 2022’s Fiercest Women in Life Sciences, has agreed to serve as an advisor as the company transitions to its new model.

Under her watch, Pfizer had massive commercial success, including becoming the first company in biopharma industry history to top $100 billion in annual sales, as it did last year. Bourla credited Hwang’s “vast achievements and unforgettable legacy” as a “purpose-driven leader.”

Since announcing the deal to acquire Seagen in March, Pfizer has made some leadership shuffles in preparation for integrating the antibody-drug conjugate specialist. In July, the company dismissed chief development officer William Pao, M.D., Ph.D., and assigned additional duties to chief scientific officer Mikael Dolsten, M.D., Ph.D. It also elevated the role of Boshoff, putting him in charge of integration of new medicines from Seagen.

Another move Pfizer made shortly after the Seagen announcement was abandoning its partnership with Merck KGaA on Bavencio, presumably to help ease FTC scrutiny of its acquisition. The agreement, which turned over commercialization of the drug to the German company, included a 15% royalty payment to Pfizer on net sales.

Bavencio, which was first approved in 2017 and has become the standard-of-care treatment for first-line bladder cancer, rung up sales of $271 million in 2022.

In July, according to an SEC filing, the FTC asked Pfizer and Seagen for more information on their merger. It was a second round of documentation the antitrust watchdog requested from the companies.

The Pfizer-Seagen merger is the largest M&A deal in biopharma since AbbVie acquired Allergan for $63 billion in June of 2019. It will give Pfizer four approved products and a deep pipeline of antibody-drug conjugate candidates. Pfizer said it expects the products brought by Seagen to bring $10 billion in additional annual revenues by 2030.

Meanwhile, Pfizer is also in the midst of a $3.5 billion cost-cutting campaign that's led to layoffs in multiple U.S. states, plus Ireland and the U.K.