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9th May 2019 - Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will acquire Therachon for $340 million upfront with an additional $470 million in additional payments contingent on the achievement of key milestones in the development and commercialization of TA-46 for the treatment of achondroplasia. [1]

Some notes about Pfizer

Pfizer is not just a big pharma. It is the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, multinational, based in the USA. The research-based company has a varied portfolio that spans many therapy areas, including immunology, oncology, neurosciences, and rare diseases. In 2018, the company received several FDA approvals, particularly in oncology, and many of its best-selling products have many years of patent protection remaining. [2]
FDA is the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and medicines regulatory authority, the body that decides on the approval of new drugs, having also many other roles.

Image 1. Credits Proclinical


Why is big pharma buying small biotech?

Nowadays,  the industry’s giants are turning to buy biotechnology companies in growing numbers for multiple reasons, being one of the most relevant to "restock" their drug pipelines (the set of drug candidates that a pharmaceutical company has under discovery or development at any given point in time [3]). and take a short-cut to high returns. [4]

In the core of these acquisitions is a mutually beneficial exchange: the biotechs’ intellectual property in return for big pharma’s scale and reach, and for investors, a potentially large payday.  Another force driving acquisitions may be the increasingly platform-driven nature of drug discovery, as pharma companies look to shore up their position against rivals by rapidly acquiring a key technology. [4]

The future of TA-46

Pfizer has already research programs for rare diseases including pediatric growth disorders (Pediatric Growth Hormone Deficiency) and TA-46 will provide a complementary setting for the rare disease pipeline. [5]
With no certainties but with confidence, Luca Santarelli, Therachon CEO said: “With its rare disease expertise and worldwide reach, Pfizer is well positioned to accelerate the development of TA-46 and fulfill Therachon’s vision of addressing the complications suffered by children with achondroplasia by targeting the molecular root causes of this condition.".

The full acquisition process will still take several weeks to be completed and in this transitional period, it is key that the ongoing phase 2 clinical trial with TA-46 keeps going as planned, and gain a new boost with Pfizer's existent structural, logistical and financial capacities. 

And last but not the least, congratulations to all people involved in Therachon: the research team, led by Elvire Gouze and all the professionals that have been paving the road to make TA-46 a medicine with the potential to reduce the complications in achondroplasia. 

  1. Network News, Pfizer acquires clinical-stage biotech Therachon. 2019, Science Business;
  2. Ellis, M., Who are the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world? (2019) 2019, Proclinical;
  3. In the Pipeline: What's Next in Drug Discovery [cited 2019 15/05];
  4. Neville, S., Big pharma raises bet on biotech as frontier for growth, in Financial Times. 2019;
  5. Pfizer Acquires Clinical-Stage Biotech Therachon. 2019, MarketWatch.
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