Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) as a pharma firm needs to focus a lot on R&D. Health care and the discovery of new diseases naturally leads to the opportunity of developing drugs to cure those diseases. Dr. Mikael Dolsten – president, worldwide R&D of Pfizer Inc himself presented at the Cowen Health Care Conference that was held last month. During the talk, Cowen’s own analyst recalled that one of the reasons behind their belief in Pfizer was that the latter was regularly coming out with new innovative products such as Ibrance and Prevnar 13. The firm is now backing startups which can solve health care challenges in innovative ways.
Pfizer Inc. Goes for Rare Diseases
Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) will join hands with New Enterprise Associates so as to support the new venture of Cydan Development. There are also other backers present who are lending their support to the second such attempt by Cydan. The list contains many big names and together, $31 mn have been pooled in. The whole operation, named as ‘Imara’, will be led by co-founder James McArthur. Pfizer believes that this is a very good way of scaling up new firms by the accelerator.
Imara will chart a similar course as its premier, Vtesse. The accelerator has been keeping tabs on new rare disease drugs outside oncology which can be of use to launch a new firm. In particular, the drug IMR-687 fits their strategy very well. Also, the drug is designed to affect the pathology of the disease. So as to know whether it can help prevent permanent damage, Imara will test the same in juveniles and adults.
James now has the task of hiring about 4 virtual crew on his plate. These will manage the clinical development work. They will have to analyze a small molecule program for sickle cell disease from Lundbeck.
The Cydan team has taken about two years to get this far. They see potential in the field of rare diseases. Their CEO Chris Adams says that they have been able to short-list 30 to 50 such rare diseases about which enough details are known. The firm seems to be capable of pushing out everything so as to create a venture-backed portfolio, while still leaving doors open to explore other options.
As for Vtesse, it is now on trial to come out with pivotal data for its Niemann-Pick Type C1 disease. This is coming a little more than two years since its launch.
Pfizer Fined About $14,000 by UK Authority
The firm has been fined by the UK antitrust watchdog ( The UK Competition and Markets Authority ) for breaking some pricing rules. The medicines in question are capsules of phenytoin sodium, which were marketed under the brand name Epanutin. These are used to treat epilepsy. The UK distribution rights were sold to another firm, Flynn Pharma in 2012. Pfizer was still the manufacturer, but in the market, prices started to shoot up fast.
The authority says that Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) suddenly began to sell the drug to Flynn at prices that were about 8 to 17 times costlier than ever before. In turn, Flynn charged customers as much as 25 to 27 times the earlier price. Finally in May 2013, an inquiry began. The National Health Service was staring at a huge expense of having to deal with about 50,000 epilepsy patients in the UK.
Earlier this year, the battle became slightly trivial. In January, the watchdog had asked for answers to some questions. But Pfizer did not meet the February deadline. Later, the watchdog came to the conclusion that this failure was planned and deliberate.