Pfizer purchases producer of sickle cell medications Global Blood for US$5.4B

USA- Pfizer has invested US$5.4 billion in the developer of sickle cell medications Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT).

The New York-based pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation aims to speed expansion after seeing its revenue surge during the pandemic. The acquisition will strengthen its efforts in rare hematology.

Pfizer has been flush with cash since its COVID-19 vaccine, Comirnaty, and its therapy, Paxlovid, entered the market.

Since late last year, the company has reported transactions totaling around US$19 billion, including debt.

Oxybryta pills are produced by Global Blood Therapeutics, a company launched in 2011 to treat sickle cell disease. They were approved by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019.

The approval followed the agency’s less than two-week-old approval of another Novartis medicine for the condition, which is characterized by aberrant, “sickled” red blood cells that cause chronic anemia, acute pain episodes and over time, organ damage.

Oxbryta sales were approximately US$195 million last year, but Pfizer stated that it intends to accelerate the distribution of the drug to areas of the world most affected by the disease.

According to The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Sickle cell disease (SCD) is an inherited group of red blood cell disorders.

SCD patients have abnormal hemoglobin, which causes red blood cells to become hard and sticky, resembling a C-shaped farm tool known as a “sickle.”

The sickle cells die prematurely, resulting in a constant shortage of red blood cells. Furthermore, when they pass through small blood vessels, they become stuck and clog the blood flow.

This can result in pain as well as other serious complications (health issues) like infection, acute chest syndrome, and stroke.

Sickle cell disease affects considerably more individuals than the estimated tens of thousands of Americans who have it, especially in regions of the world where malaria is more prevalent.

Pfizer will pay US$68.50 in cash per share for Global Blood Therapeutics. That is a nearly 43% premium over the stock’s closing price of US$47.99 on the day before The Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer was in advanced talks on a deal.

The boards of directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which still requires regulatory approval and approval from GBT shareholders.

According to the companies, the transaction could be completed as soon as the fourth quarter.

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