Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bristol Continues Late-Stage Asset Sale

Bristol-Myers Squibb continued selling off pieces of its late-stage pipeline this morning with a monster deal with Pfizer worth up to $1 billion in upfront payments and milestones.

The move demonstrate's Bristol's biotech-like strategy of monetizing its assets prior to commercialization. Deals like this allow the Big Pharma to hedge its development bets while at the same time, perhaps, providing takeover insurance against the overtures of its most likely acquirer, Sanofi-aventis, its commercialization partner on the blockbuster Plavix.

Pfizer gets a piece of Bristol's Phase III anticoagulant apixaban, in exchange for $250 million upfront cash and up to $750 million in development and regulatory milestones. The companies will share profits and commercialization expenses equally and Pfizer will fund 60% of any development costs from January 1, 2007 onward. Apixaban is being studied in prevention of venous thromboembolism and prevention of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation.

Separately the companies said they would also work together in metabolic disease, in a deal centered on a Pfizer discovery program with potential in diabetes and obesity. There, BMS is paying Pfizer $50 million and the companies will split profits/losses and all expenses 60/40--with Pfizer picking up the lion's share of the tab and rewards.

Pfizer clearly hopes to fill the void left by the failure of torcetrapib, its HDL-raising compound that was yanked from Phase III trials last year. Bristol on the other hand is slimming down, placing its commercial emphasis in specialist marketing and partnering off its late-stage assets in a company-wide hedging process. Until today it's biggest move was partnering 50% of its most advanced diabetes programs to AstraZeneca, in a deal worth up to $750 million in pre-commercial milestones. Bristol also moved today to solidify James Cornelius' position as CEO, who has been the company's interim chief since last year.

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