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Pfizer to buy skin drug maker Anacor for $5.2 billion

Anacor’s stock surged 57.2 percent Monday on news of Pfizer’s acquisition plan.
Anacor’s stock surged 57.2 percent Monday on news of Pfizer’s acquisition plan.BRENDAN MCDERMID/Reuters

TRENTON, N.J. — Pfizer is fortifying its key immunology and inflammation drug business, snapping up a small maker of skin treatments for about $5.2 billion, weeks after the Treasury Department torpedoed Pfizer’s planned $160 billion deal for Allergan PLC.

Pfizer Inc.’s agreement on Monday to acquire Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc., a money-losing developer of topical skin treatments, is the latest move by the biggest US-based drug maker in a years-long struggle to accelerate growth.

Pfizer, known for Viagra and the pneumonia vaccine Prevnar 13, had been counting on acquiring Dublin-based Allergan and moving its headquarters — on paper — from New York to Ireland to reduce its tax bill. But on April 5 Treasury issued rules governing ‘‘tax-inversion’’ deals, removing the financial incentives for buying Allergan.

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With California-based Anacor, Pfizer gains an experimental eczema treatment that could be approved by the Food and Drug Administration by January, plus US rights to the topical toenail fungus treatment Kerydin and a portfolio of other drugs in early testing.

If approved, the topical eczema medicine, crisaborole, would be the first new medication type in 15 years for eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis. About 18 million to 25 million people in the United States have the chronic skin disorder, which causes inflammation and itching, often lasting two weeks or more.

Pfizer, which sells the blockbuster drug Enbrel for plaque psoriasis and other immune disorders, said peak annual sales of crisaborole could reach or exceed $2 billion.

Albert Bourla, group president of Pfizer’s vaccines, oncology, and consumer health care businesses, called the buyout attractive because there are few safe topical eczema treatments.

Anacor had only $17.5 million in revenue in the first quarter, when it lost $16.1 million.

Pfizer will pay $99.25 per Anacor share, 55 percent above its Friday price of $64.03.

Pfizer rose 0.5 percent to $33.37 Monday; Anacor surged 57.2 percent to $100.67.

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Anacor holds rights to Kerydin, which is marketed in the United States by Sandoz, the generics division of Swiss drug giant Novartis AG. Pfizer said it could repurchase all Kerydin rights from Sandoz at the end of 2017. And Anacor has licensed rights to three experimental drugs it developed to other companies — agreements that would transfer to Pfizer.