Pfizer spoilt for choice of oncology assets


The ambitious estimates revealed yesterday by Pfizer to grow its oncology business ten-fold by 2018 to $25bn appear just that and for the US pharma giant to come anywhere close to achieving this goal it will need to significantly ramp up its licensing and business development operations (Pfizer might achieve No.3 in cancer but needs deals to hit $25bn sales target, July 14, 2009).

Whilst this is encouraging news for small oncology players who would love to land a lucrative deal with the world’s biggest pharma company, an analysis by EP Vantage of clinical stage unpartnered oncology assets reveals that with 549 products potentially available, competition for Pfizer’s attention will be fierce (see tables below). For Pfizer the trick will be in filtering out these partnering opportunities to identify the Avastins of the future.

Spoilt for choice

The following table is derived by extracting pipeline portfolio data from EvaluatePharma, and excludes any cancer products which are already being developed by, or partnered with, a big pharma company.

Unsurprisingly the bulk of these assets are in early and mid-stage clinical trials, whereas just eight products are currently under regulatory review.

Unpartnered oncology pipeline assets
Phase Product count
Filed 8
Phase III 75
Phase II 240
Phase I 226
Total 549

In terms of the key unpartnered assets which are currently attracting the most attention and valuation by analysts, the following table highlights some products that could be of most immediate interest to Pfizer.

Key late-stage unpartnered pipeline oncology assets WW annual sales / royalties ($m)
Phase Product Company Pharmacological Class Launch Sales or Royalties 2010 2012 2014
Filed PDX  Allos Therapeutics  Dihydrofolate reductase inhibitor Dec-2009 sales 72 224 360
Acapodene  GTx  Selective oestrogen receptor modulator (SERM) Dec-2009 sales 67 217 357
Cerepro  Ark Therapeutics  HSV tk gene therapy Dec-2009 sales 38 137 237
Phase III Provenge  Dendreon  Prostate cancer vaccine Jun-2010 sales 54 324 661
Anti-CD23 MAb  Biogen Idec  Anti-CD23 MAb Dec-2010 sales 33 133 200
Picoplatin  Poniard Pharmaceuticals  Platinum compound Dec-2010 sales 8 44 171
Proellex  Repros Therapeutics  Progestogen modulator Dec-2010 royalties 1 60 145
AS1413  Antisoma  Topoisomerase II inhibitor Dec-2011 sales - 59 108
Rencarex  Wilex  Anti-MN MAb Dec-2010 royalties 34 84 101
Phase II R406/R788  Rigel Pharmaceuticals  Syk kinase inhibitor Dec-2011 royalties - 18 198
ARRY-797  Array BioPharma  p38 MAP kinase inhibitor Dec-2011 sales - 55 158
AVN944 (VX-944)  Clinical Data   Inosine monophosphate dehydrogenase inhibitor Dec-2011 sales - - 145
SGN-35  Seattle Genetics  Anti-CD30 MAb-auristatin E conjugate Dec-2012 sales - 36 143
GRN163L  Geron  Telomerase inhibitor Jun-2011 sales - 35 105
Arenegyr (NGR-TNFa)  MolMed  CD13 aminopeptidase N (APN) inhibitor Dec-2011 royalties - 16 105

Whilst the likes of Dendreon, GTx and Allos Therapeutics so far intend to commercialise their oncology products themselves, rights outside the US would certainly be available and there is no reason why talks could not lead to a global license if both parties are in agreement.

With regard to some of the companies with most unpartnered pipeline assets, the following table reveals an interesting mixture of parties that may be most keen to attract Pfizer’s attention.

Companies with the most unpartnered oncology assets
Company Product count
Celgene 9
Biogen Idec 8
TopoTarget 7
Array BioPharma 6
Immunomedics 6
Meabco Biotech 6
Pierre Fabre 6
EntreMed 5
Introgen Therapeutics 5
Medarex 5
Northwest Biotherapeutics 5
Sigma-Tau 5

Whilst the likes of Celgene and Biogen Idec clearly have the potential to develop and commercialise their own oncology products themselves, their inclusion in this list is relevant as it identifies them as key oncology players just behind big pharma.

Although a takeover of Biogen Idec or Celgene would significantly enhance Pfizer’s oncology portfolio in one go, the current merger with Wyeth would tend to rule this out any time soon. Nevertheless, their assets may attract interest a few years down the line if and when Pfizer’s appetite for another major acquisition returns.

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