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Biogen pays Pfizer $75m for experimental drug to treat schizophrenia

“Biogen continues to explore new ways to treat serious diseases where there are few or no options,” said chief executive Michel Vounatsos.
“Biogen continues to explore new ways to treat serious diseases where there are few or no options,” said chief executive Michel Vounatsos. John Blanding/The Boston Globe/Globe Staff

Biogen Inc. said Monday that it plans to buy an experimental drug from the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. that the Cambridge-based biotech wants to develop as a treatment for cognitive impairment for people with schizophrenia.

Under the tentative deal, Biogen would pay Pfizer $75 million up front and as much as $515 million in royalties if the drug meets certain clinical and marketing goals.

The deal, which is expected to be finalized in the second quarter of this year, would be Biogen’s first program in the field of neuropsychiatry. Biogen, the largest Massachusetts-based biotech, has traditionally focused on neurodegenerative diseases.

“As pioneers in neuroscience, Biogen continues to explore new ways to treat serious diseases where there are few or no options, such as CIAS,” said Biogen chief executive Michel Vounatsos, referring to cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia.

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More than 20 million people worldwide live with schizophrenia, Biogen said, and most of them are believed to have some degree of cognitive impairment.


Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com