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Pfizer, Moving on From Allergan, Pays $5.2B For Anacor Pharma

Xconomy San Francisco — 

It looks like Pfizer is starting to put some of the cash it would have spent on Allergan to use. This morning, weeks after its mega-merger with Allergan fell apart, Pfizer agreed to acquire Anacor Pharmaceuticals, a biotech based in Palo Alto, CA, with a drug for eczema that could win FDA approval early next year.

Pfizer, of New York, will pay $99.25 per share in cash, or $5.2 billion total, for Anacor (NASDAQ: ANAC). The deal represents a 55 percent premium on Anacor’s $64.03 closing price on Friday, but then again Anacor was trading at almost $150 a share in the summer of 2015, before biotech’s multi-year bull run started to slow down. Shares of Anacor surged to $98.55 apiece in pre-market trading on Monday.

In the deal, Pfizer gets rights to what’s known as crisaborole, a topical drug that Anacor has been developing for atopic dermatitis—a skin condition commonly called eczema, characterized by chronic, itchy rashes. The drug is an antibody that blocks an enzyme, PDE4, known to play a role in inflammation. It’s being developed for mild-to-moderate cases of eczema, which is typically treated with steroids.

A number of other PDE4 inhibitors are in development or already approved, including apremilast (Otezla) from Celgene, for psoriatic arthritis; and roflumilast (Daliresp), from AstraZeneca, for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. None, however, has been approved for eczema as of yet. Anacor filed an application for approval of crisaborole in March, and the FDA is expected to decide on the drug by January. Pfizer estimates more than $2 billion in peak sales for crisaborole if it’s approved.

Still, there could be more competition in eczema treatments on the way. Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: REGN) have an eczema treatment called dupilumab in Phase 3 testing. That drug, an antibody that blocks the signaling of the cytokines interleukin 4 and interleukin 13, already succeeded in the first of two Phase 3 trials, with the second expected to produce data next year. Celgene’s apremilast is also in mid-stage testing for eczema.

Anacor also has an approved drug, tavaborole (Kerydin), a topical treatment for toenail fungus, though it splits profits with Sandoz. The company went public in 2010 at $5 per share.