Pfizer to buy eczema drugmaker Anacor for US$5.2 billion

A New York City police officer in front of Pfizer’s headquarters on April 27, 2016 in New York.
A New York City police officer in front of Pfizer’s headquarters on April 27, 2016 in New York. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - Pfizer agreed to buy Anacor Pharmaceuticals for US$5.2 billion (S$7.13 billion), gaining control of an experimental treatment for the skin condition known as eczema in its first deal since walking away from a US$160 billion takeover of Allergan.

Pfizer will pay US$99.25 in cash for each Anacor share, the companies said in a statement on Monday. The transaction, which represents about a 55 per cent premium on last Friday's closing price, is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter, and may start adding to Pfizer's earnings in 2018.

Chief Executive Officer Ian Read said this month that Pfizer was looking to acquire products that are close to hitting the market, while considering a split of the business in the wake of its failed attempt to buy Allergan. Anacor's crisaborole drug, which the U.S. Federal and Drug Administration is scheduled to make a decision on by Jan. 7 for the treatment of mild-to-moderate eczema, could have peak annual sales of US$2 billion, Pfizer projected, helping bolster its inflammation and immunology group .

About 18 to 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from eczema, whose main symptom is a chronic rash that can last two weeks or more. Anacor also holds the rights to Kerydin, a treatment for toenail fungus that is commercialized by Novartis AG's Sandoz in the U.S. and competes with Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc.'s Jublia.

Shares of Pfizer fell 0.8 per cent to US$32.91 in New York before the markets opened, while Anacor jumped 54 per cent to US$98.41. Anacor had dropped 58 per cent since its August 2015 peak of US$152.25 through Friday.

Pfizer has said it will decide by the end of the year whether to split the company, which could offer tax benefits, and could have the transaction done by the end of 2017. The drugmaker dropped its mega-merger with Allergan in April after the U.S. Treasury announced rules that would have reduced the tax benefits of that deal.