Done deal: Pfizer completes $43B acquisition of Seagen, doubling its oncology pipeline

Pfizer’s $43 billion acquisition of Seagen is in the books, the company said on Thursday, as it becomes the largest M&A transaction in the biopharma industry since AbbVie snatched up Allergan for $63 billion in 2019.

The buyout of the antidbody-drug conjugate (ADC) specialist has doubled Pfizer’s pipeline to 60 programs, the company said. With the addition of four FDA-approved cancer drugs—Adcedris, Padcev, Tivdak and Tukysa—Pfizer now has nine oncology medications that are already blockbusters or have blockbuster potential, the company said.

“Given Seagen’s position as the best ADC company, we are confident they are the ideal partner for Pfizer,” Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s CEO, said during a conference call on Wednesday. “Pfizer is ideally situated to deploy our financial, scientific, manufacturing and commercial capabilities to develop far more new medicines with Seagen’s targeted technology.”

Companies developing ADC therapies have become hot properties this year as other Big Pharma players such as AbbVie, Merck and Bristol Myers Squibb have followed Pfizer’s lead. The technology has been a breakthrough with its ability to deliver cancer-busting treatment to tumors with little damage to other tissues.

“In addition to expanding our portfolio and leading the next generation of cancer breakthroughs, we also expect Seagen to contribute meaningfully to our goal of accelerating near-term and long-term financial growth,” Bourla said.

As for the near term, Pfizer said on Wednesday that it anticipates products gained from the Seagen buyout will account for $3.1 billion in revenue in 2024. By 2030, Pfizer expects that figure to swell to $10 billion.

Pfizer’s agreement with Seagen, which was revealed in March, survived heavy scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which twice asked the company for more information on the merger.

To eventually make the deal happen, Pfizer agreed to donate royalties on its U.S. sales of Merck KGaA’s bladder cancer drug Bavencio to the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

On Tuesday, when Pfizer revealed that the deal was imminent, the company revealed a reorganization where it will develop and commercialize its oncology drugs under a separate division led by Chris Boshoff, M.D., Ph.D., who has been Pfizer’s oncology R&D chief for the last six months.

“We are not acquiring the golden eggs, we are acquiring the goose that laid the golden eggs,” Bourla said yesterday. “So it was extremely important for us to make sure that as we integrate Seagen we would not distract the operations from this exceptional company. Their model, which was end-to-end, it will fit very, very nice with us now.”   

Also rushing to the ADC space recently are AbbVie, with a $10.1 billion agreement to gain ImmunoGen two weeks ago, Merck, with a $4 billion licensing of three ADC drugs from Daiichi Sankyo two months ago, and Bristol Myers Squibb, earlier this week with an $800 million-upfront deal with SystImmune for a promising candidate in phase 2.

Pfizer’s deal begins the start of a new chapter for the New York company which saw its value skyrocket with its success in 2021-22 selling COVID-19 products Comirnaty and Paxlovid. But a subsequent slide has dropped its share price by nearly 49%, with the company’s shares now trading at a price lower than before the pandemic.