"We recognize that each partnership is unique, and over the years our teams have become more and more creative and resourceful in creating deal structures that share in the risks and opportunities so that each party and its respective stakeholders – including patients, innovators and investors – are positioned for success."
Pfizer’s CEO has outlined a plan for the company that is more nimble and poised for growth. Can you explain how business development activities can help achieve this plan?
We have a very strong pipeline right now with the potential to bring multiple breakthrough therapies to patients in the next five years, and our near- to mid-term focus for business development is to advance the pipeline to help deliver on the opportunities ahead of us.
The way we plan to deliver on those opportunities is largely the same as it’s been in recent years, which is by evaluating the capabilities of our internal science and deciding whether we are able to achieve our goals with the resources we have. If not, we seek to fill the gaps through external collaborations.
Pfizer has evolved as a partner in recent years, and we recognize that breakthroughs can come from many different places. We also recognize that breakthroughs are built by pairing capabilities from different partnerships and working together toward a shared overarching vision, such as what we’ve done in gene therapy.
How does Pfizer’s approach to business development differ from your peers?
We believe that our differentiation comes from our capabilities, such as medicinal chemistry, product development and manufacturing, to name a few. It’s important for us to ensure that partners understand the true depth and breadth of our expertise, so we often bring our scientists with us to the negotiation table.
We recognize that each partnership is unique, and over the years our teams have become more and more creative and resourceful in creating deal structures that share in the risks and opportunities so that each party and its respective stakeholders – including patients, innovators and investors – are positioned for success.
How do the joint ventures in consumer health and off-patent drugs announced last year fit into Pfizer’s structure and priorities?
Pfizer had three unique businesses: an innovative business, an off-patent drugs business, and a consumer healthcare business. Each of those are now in a place where they can create the most value – Upjohn is expected to combine with Mylan to become a new pharmaceutical company, Viatris, later this year, and Pfizer Consumer Healthcare has combined with GSK’s consumer healthcare business to form a new consumer healthcare joint venture and could eventually be spun off into a new company. Pfizer will become a more science-focused, high-growth company that is well-positioned to deliver breakthroughs that change people’s lives.
Oncology continues to be an important area for investment and R&D. Can you shed light on Pfizer’s oncology strategy, particularly in light of the recent acquisition of Array Biopharma?
Pfizer invests in areas where we see the greatest opportunity and where we believe we can deliver the best value. Our core therapeutic areas are: inflammation and immunology, internal medicine, oncology, rare disease, and vaccines.
We look to business development to enhance our expertise in certain aspects of the core therapeutic areas; for example, breast cancer and prostate cancer. We look to augment our existing pipeline through partnerships that add programs that are approaching or already in the clinic. We also seek partnering opportunities to gain access to specific technologies within Pfizer’s core therapeutic areas, and platforms to enable drug discovery and development. While not as large as our Array transaction, Kineta and eFFECTOR are recent examples.
The acquisition of Array in July 2019 gave us commercial products, as well as late-stage pipeline assets that we expect to reach patients within a few years. In addition, the expertise found within Array complements the expertise within Pfizer, and we believe that by combining our efforts in this space we will be well-positioned for future growth in oncology.
What can we expect from Pfizer in terms of business development over the next 2-3 years?
In the near-term, our focus is on partnerships that will allow us to bring potential breakthroughs to fruition in the next few years. We will continue to invest in science through bolt-on acquisitions like Array and Therachon, and through research and development agreements like our recent deals with Vivet Therapeutics and Akcea Therapeutics.
True innovation and good science, even if outside our core therapeutic areas, will always be an opportunity for us.