More vaccines deals for Pfizer? It wouldn't say no, exec says

Pfizer Vaccines president Susan Silbermann

Over the past year, Pfizer ($PFE) has certainly achieved CEO Ian Read's goal of bulking up beyond best-selling vaccine Prevnar 13. In addition to ushering its meningitis B vaccine through the clinic to an FDA approval, it's made two pickups to expand its marketed portfolio and pipeline.

So what's next for the pharma giant's vaccines unit? Perhaps more deals, its leader says.

"We are an important growth engine for the company and there are lots of ways to grow. We will continue to grow with our current portfolio--much of which is new anyway--but if we have external opportunities that would be great," Pfizer Vaccines President Susan Silbermann told Reuters in a recent interview.

"Having a broad portfolio helps us in terms of our positioning and presenting in front of healthcare professionals and governments," she added.

Any further buys would build on last June's $635 million pact for Baxter's ($BAX) marketed vaccines portfolio, a transaction that brought Pfizer NeisVac-C--a meningitis C vaccine--and FSME-IMMUN/TicoVac, which protects against tick-borne encephalitis. In January, the company followed up by grabbing Switzerland's RedVax, a move that brought it access to a preclinical human cytomegalovirus vaccine candidate, as well as a tech platform and IP related to a second, undisclosed vaccine program.

But Pfizer isn't the only company that's been active in the vaccine M&A space lately. Earlier this month, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) closed a $7.1 billion deal for the bulk of Novartis' ($NVS) vaccines unit, a tie-up that vaulted it into the field's leader position. And with Novartis now out of the picture, it's just the Big 3--Glaxo, Merck ($MRK) and Sanofi ($SNY), with Pfizer looking in--at the top of the vaccines ranks.

Pfizer isn't relying solely on acquisitions to close the gap, though. It's working on a host of other pipeline projects, including Phase II candidates for Staphylococcus aureus and Clostridium difficile.

And in the meantime, it's working on expanding use of global giant Prevnar. Last August, a CDC committee granted the vaccine a key nod for universal use in adults over the age of 65--a $2 billion sales lift, analysts figured. And earlier this month, the EMA green-lighted the shot in adults for prevention of pneumonia caused by the 13 pneumococcal serotypes the vaccine contains.

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