Pharmaceutical firm Biogen has disclosed that it will acquire an experimental drug developed by Pfizer and which is meant to treat schizophrenia symptoms. Biogen could spend as much as $600 million on the purchase that will see it enter the emerging market of neuropsychiatry.
According to Biogen mid-stage tests for the drug will begin in this year’s second half after the deal has closed next quarter. The experimental drug targets a cognitive impairment that comes with schizophrenia. Per Biogen most of the 20 million patients of schizophrenia across the globe suffer from some level of cognitive impairment. The drug could be used to bridge signals of the nervous system which the disease usually disrupts.
Upfront fee and milestone payments
Per Biogen Pfizer will be paid an upfront fee of $75 million while the remaining $515 million will be paid upon completion of various commercialization and development milestones. Pfizer will also be paid royalties.
Earlier in the month Biogen announced that a drug meant to treat multiple sclerosis and which it developed in conjunction with AbbVie would be withdrawn due to the fact that serious brain inflammation had been reported in some patients who were on the treatment. The drug known as Zinbryta is prescribed to relapsing MS patients who have previously tried two other drugs but which didn’t work.
“Biogen believes the voluntary worldwide withdrawal of Zinbryta, a treatment for relapsing multiple sclerosis, is in the best interest of patients,” Biogen’s chief medical officer and executive vice president, Alfred Sandrock, said.
European Medicines Agency
The drug regulator in the EU, European Medicines Agency, announced that a review of the treatment had been started following reports of seven brain inflammation cases in Germany. There was also one which was reported in Spain.
The FDA on the other hand indicated that it was fully aware of the development but a spokesperson for the drug regulator urged patients on the drug not to stop taking it before consulting their doctors. The drug regulator did not however say whether there were reports of similar adverse side effects from the drug in the U.S or even whether a review would be undertaken like its European counterpart had announced.
According to a spokesperson for Biogen Zinbryta received the approval of the FDA in 2016. It is estimated that around 3,000 MS patients across the globe are using the drug and most are located in Germany and the United States. Last year Zinbryta generated global revenues of $107 million.