Coronavirus pandemic delay Mylan and Pfizer’s generics merger

Mylan’s merger with Pfizer’s off-patent drug business has been delayed until later this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The companies said the merger, which was originally due to close midway through this year, will be delayed until the “second half” of 2020, although the companies gave no precise timeline.

In a statement the companies said that there are no “additional changes” to the previously announced terms or plans of the transaction, which involves Mylan merging with a division of Pfizer called Upjohn.

The combination of Pfizer’s Upjohn unit with Mylan will create a generics giant with a market cap of $9.5 billion with Mylan shareholders holding 43% of the new venture and Pfizer investors taking 57%.

The two partners said the combined company would have pro forma sales of $19-$20 billion in 2020 and an expanded geographic reach, with operations in 165 markets around the world, including China and emerging markets.

The merged company will also have rights to iconic Upjohn brands such as cholesterol drug Lipitor, arthritis treatment Celebrex and Viagra for erectile dysfunction. Pfizer had previously discussed the possibility of spinning out Upjohn as a standalone company.

Upjohn chief executive Michael Goettler will head the merged company with Mylan CEO Heather Bresch departing and the latter company’s chairman Robert Coury keeping that role. Mylan’s Rajiv Malik will continue to serve as president.

Under a restructuring under new CEO Albert Bourla Pfizer has already separated its innovative drugs business from off-patent medicines and consumer healthcare, and formed a joint venture for consumer health with GlaxoSmithKline, and agreed an $11.4 billion deal to acquire cancer specialist Array BioPharma.

Elsewhere, the coronavirus has caused the FDA reschedule an advisory meeting to discuss Intercept’s much-anticipated NASH drug obeticholic acid from 22 April to 9 June, close to the decision date of 26 June.

Bluebird bio has pushed back a rolling filing in the US for its beta-thalassemia drug, saying it will not have all the information required by the FDA until mid-2021.

Other trials affected included a gene therapy for Huntington’s disease from UniQure – patients were due to enrol this month in a phase 1/2 trial but this has been postponed.

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