Sep 25, 2017

Pfizer spins out shelved experimental drugs

Pfizer is taking Johnson & Johnson to court. Photo: Mark Lennihan / AP

SpringWorks Therapeutics, a rare disease drug development startup, has raised $103 million in Series A funding from Pfizer, Bain Capital Life Sciences, Bain Capital Double Impact, Orbimed and LifeArc. The company is launching with four compounds licensed from Pfizer, including a pair – one in desmoid tumor and another for neurofibromatosis – that are ready for Phase 3 clinical trials. Pfizer also has some royalty rights via the transaction, although financial details were not disclosed.

Why it matters: Because big pharma rarely pays much attention to its shelved experimental compounds, let alone create a spin-out company to further develop them.

But that's what Pfizer did here, spearheaded by a strategy exec named Lara Sullivan who now leads SpringWorks. It could become a model for Pfizer's peers, many of which have just out-licensed compounds on a one-off basis to inbound third parties. As for SpringWorks, it intends to acquire other candidates from non-Pfizer sources (both corporate and academic).

Bottom line from Xconomy's Bed Fidler: "Pharma companies scrap development of experimental drugs all the time. Sometimes those drugs don't work or are unsafe. Other times they no longer fit a company's strategic goals, or they might be best suited for a different disease. Maybe they even lose an internal fight for interest and resources, and the cash to run larger, more expensive trials is put elsewhere."

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 1,498,833 — Total deaths: 89,733 — Total recoveries: 337,074Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 432,438 — Total deaths: 14,808 — Total recoveries: 24,125Map.
  3. Business: Fed will lend up to $2.3 trillion amid coronavirus crisis — Another 6.6 million jobless claims filed last week
  4. Public health latest: The federal government is in the process of deploying 90% of its stockpiled medical equipment to fight the pandemic.
  5. States latest: New York has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe — Chicago's Cook County jail is largest-known source of coronavirus in U.S.
  6. Poll: 1 in 10 Americans believe economy will never return to normal from coronavirus.
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