Seagen has a New Suitor as Pfizer Talks Begin

Pfizer_Pierre Suu/Getty Images

Courtesy of Pierre Suu/Getty Images

Following its failed deal with Merck last year, Seagen has a new suitor. The Seattle-based company is in talks with Pfizer over a potential acquisition, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday evening, citing people familiar with the matter.

Negotiations between Pfizer and Seagen are in the early stages, according to the WSJ report, and there is no guarantee both companies will reach an agreement.

If a deal does materialize, however, it could be one of biopharma’s biggest buyouts ever. Seagen currently has a market cap of $30.14 billion and any acquisition agreement is expected to carry a heftier price tag.

Any potential deal would also have to pass increasingly stringent antitrust scrutiny. In January, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to FTC commissioners, citing the “rampant consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry” and the effects this could have on competition. A high-value deal between Pfizer and Seagen could attract similar attention.

BioSpace has reached out to both Seagen and Pfizer for comment.

Pfizer isn’t Seagen’s first high-profile suitor. In June 2022, Merck reportedly approached the cancer-focused biotech for a buyout. The negotiations, which were also first broken by the WSJ, progressed to advanced stages in July 2022, with both companies settling on a deal value of around $40 billion according to sources familiar with the matter.

In August 2022, however, negotiations hit a snag over pricing disagreements. There have been no major developments since.

ADC Alliance

If a deal with Pfizer does push through, it will bring two of the industry’s most influential antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) players together.

Pfizer owns Mylotarg (gemtuzumab ozogamicin), the first-ever ADC to make it to the U.S. market after it won FDA approval for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) in 2010. Pfizer withdrew Mylotarg in this indication in 2010 due to potentially fatal side effects. The therapeutic regained its AML approval in 2017, at a lower dose and for patients with CD33-positive disease.

Seagen, meanwhile, owns Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin), which won FDA approval for Hodgkin lymphoma and systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma in August 2011 and became the second ADC to pass regulatory muster. Adcetris has since picked up several other oncology approvals and Seagen expects it to hit blockbuster status in 2023.

Aside from Adcetris, the potential buyout could also give Pfizer access to Padcev (enfortumab vedotin-ejfv), which Seagen also sees blockbuster potential in, especially as the drug could grow into a strong bladder cancer franchise. Padcev is already approved for locally advanced or metastatic urothelial cancer.

Seagen is looking to expand Padcev’s use into earlier stages of the disease. The FDA has already granted priority review for its accelerated approval in first-line metastatic bladder cancer.

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