Pfizer buys Baxter vaccines for $635m

US group will acquire two marketed products plus production facilities in Austria.

Pfizer is to pay $635 million for Baxter International’s vaccines portfolio, including production facilities, in a deal expected to go through by the end of the year.

Baxter will relinquish its two commercially marketed vaccines – one for meningitis and one for encephalitis, with combined expected sales of $300 million in 2014 – plus a part of its factory in Orth, Austria, where they are manufactured.

For Baxter it is the continuation of a strategy to shed certain parts of its operation and the company says it will now look at partnering or offloading altogether its R&D programmes on influenza and Lyme disease.

“This action reflects our strategic priority to optimize the portfolio and enhance focus in specific disease areas as Baxter’s BioScience organisation prepares to become a separate, independent global biopharmaceutical company,” explained Baxter BioScience president Ludwig Hantson.

“We are redirecting resources and investing in our robust pipeline centered on core areas of expertise – hematology and immunology – and through technology platforms like gene therapy and biosimilars,” he said.

Last year Baxter and Coherus Biosciences entered into a possible $246 million collaboration to develop and commercialize a biosimilar of Amgen’s rheumatoid arthritis drug, etanercept.

Baxter is also the current leader in haemophilia A, a market estimated to be worth $6 billion. It has its own longer-acting recombinant factor VIII protein, BAX 855, currently in late-stage trials.

For its money, Pfizer is getting NeisVac-C, which helps protect against meningitis caused by group C meningococcal meningitis (MenC), a brain infection which can be fatal in 10-15% of patients and leaves 30-50% of sufferers with severe physical or mental damage.

Meanwhile FSME-IMMUN/TicoVac is a 30-year old vaccine to prevent tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), another infection of the brain, which is transmitted by the bite of ticks infected with the TBE-virus.

This causes thousands of cases of neuroinvasive illness across Europe and Asia and Pfizer says it is “a growing public health concern in Europe and other parts of the world”.

“Vaccines make a tremendous and valuable impact on public health around the world,” said Susan Silbermann, Pfizer Vaccines president. “Through this acquisition, we will add two high-quality and life-saving vaccines that bring scale and depth to our portfolio.”

Pfizer filed its own meningitis B candidate vaccine rLP2086 for approval with the US FDA in June.

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Baxter and Coherus Biosciences in $246m biosimilars deal

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