Pfizer will carry Seagen’s most cancers medicine to the world on an unprecedented scale, says the CEO
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on Monday the pharma giant would be able to deliver Seagens Cancer therapy in the world ‘on an unprecedented scale’ with $43 billion acquisition.
“We can add value to what Seagen is bringing,” Bourla said in a CNBC interview. “It’s more or less a situation like when mRNA was in our hands. With our scale, with our capabilities, it’s the same here.”
Seagen is a leading developer of drugs called antibody-drug conjugates, or ADCs, designed to kill cancer cells and spare healthy cells. ADCs use antibodies to deliver small molecule drugs directly to a tumor site, which Seagen’s website says can reduce side effects and offer greater efficacy.
Bourla called ADCs “one of the greatest technologies to fight cancer,” comparing it to the successful mRNA, or messenger RNA, technology the company helped manufacture with BioNTech for Covid-19 vaccines. mRNA technology is essentially used as a vehicle to convey instructions to cells. In Covid vaccines, mRNA technology is used to trick our immune system into making antibodies against the virus.
ADCs “are turbocharged guided missiles that attack the cancer cells and can make a big difference,” he said.
Seagen will grow Pfizer’s cancer treatment portfolio, bringing four approved cancer therapies to market with combined sales of nearly $2 billion in 2022. Seagen’s best-selling Adcetris, used to treat cancer of the lymphatic system, had sales of $839 million last year alone. That’s a 19% increase from last year, according to Seagen’s latest release.
Sales of Padcev, a drug used to treat urinary tract cancer, also rose 33% last year to $451 million, the company said.
“These drugs are on a strong growth trajectory, with significant life cycle programs expected to continue to drive impact and growth,” Bourla said in a conference call early Monday morning.
Seagen expects sales of about $2.2 billion this year, up 12% year over year, according to a press release from Pfizer. Pfizer added that Seagen could contribute more than $10 billion in risk-adjusted sales by 2030, “with potential for significant growth” beyond this year.
The deal comes as Pfizer braces for a slump in Covid-related sales this year after its vaccine and antiviral pill Paxlovid propelled its sales to a record $100 billion in 2022. It will help Pfizer sharpen its focus on oncology, an area the company believes will be the industry’s biggest growth market.
Pfizer’s oncology division had sales of $12.1 billion last year. According to the press release, the company has 24 approved treatments in the division, including breast cancer treatment Ibrance.
Pfizer expects to close the transaction later this year or in early 2024. The company also expects antitrust authorities to scrutinize the transaction given its size, but Bourla said during the interview, “We believe we have a clean case.”
“The environment is always challenging and we’re preparing for it, but I don’t expect any problems,” he added.
According to the World Health Organization, cancer was responsible for almost 10 million deaths in 2020. The American Cancer Society expects the global burden of cancer to increase significantly by 2040, with new cases projected to rise to 27.5 million and cancer deaths to 16.3 million
Bourla emphasized during the interview that the impact of cancer goes far beyond the patients themselves: “If no patients are affected, they will be affected as a husband or wife, they will be affected by daughter or son.”
He added, “With this technology in our hands, we can make a huge difference.”