Pfizer to acquire sickle cell disease specialist for $5.4b USD

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

(Artur Plawgo/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(Artur Plawgo/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags sickle cell disease Blood hematology Drug delivery Mergers and acquisitions

Biopharmaceutical company Global Blood Therapeutics specializes in conditions that often disproportionately impact underrepresented communities, such as SCD.

Pfizer and Global Blood Therapeutics (GBT) have entered into a definitive agreement that sees the pharmaceutical company acquiring the biopharma for $5.4b USD. With the purchase, Pfizer brings into its rare hematology fold a company that offers expertise in the area, including a focus on sickle cell disease (SCD) and conditions that impact underserved communities.

Under the terms, Pfizer will acquire GBT’s outstanding shares for $68.50 USD each in cash. Both boards of directors have unanimously approved the transaction.

SCD is a lifelong, genetic blood disorder that impacts millions worldwide, predominantly in populations of African, Middle Eastern, and South Asian descent. GBT’s developed therapeutics include Oxbryta (voxelotor) tablets, which targets SCD’s root cause—it was first approved in the US in November 2019 and also has been granted approval in the European Union, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and the UK. Net sales for the drug were approximately $195m USD in 2021.

Albert Bourla, CEO and chairman, Pfizer

Sickle cell disease is the most common inherited blood disorder, and it disproportionately affects people of African descent; we are excited to welcome GBT colleagues into Pfizer and to work together to transform the lives of patients, as we have long sought to address the needs of this underserved community​,” said Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and CEO. “The deep market knowledge and scientific and clinical capabilities we have built over three decades in rare hematology will enable us to accelerate innovation for the sickle cell disease community and bring these treatments to patients as quickly as possible​.”

GBT also is working on GBT021601 (GBT601), an oral, once-daily, next-generation sickle hemoglobin (HbS) polymerization inhibitor in the Phase II portion of a Phase II/III study. According to GBT, the candidate has the potential to be a best-in-class agent targeting improvement in both hemolysis and frequency of vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC).

The company’s pipeline also includes inclacumab, a fully human monoclonal antibody targeting P-selectin which is being evaluated in two Phase III clinical trials as a potential quarterly treatment to reduce the frequency of VOCs and to reduce hospital readmission rates due to VOCs. Both GBT601 and inclacumab have received Orphan Drug and Rare Pediatric Disease designations from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If approved, GBT’s pipeline and Oxbryta reportedly have the potential for an SCD franchise that could achieve combined worldwide peak sales of more than $3b USD.

Ted Love, president and CEO, Global Blood Therapeutics

Today is an exciting milestone that accelerates GBT’s mission to discover, develop and deliver life-changing treatments that provide hope to underserved patient communities​,” said Ted Love, president and CEO of GBT. “Pfizer will broaden and amplify our impact for patients and further propel much-needed innovation and resources for the care of people with sickle cell disease and other rare diseases, including populations in limited-resource countries. We look forward to working together with Pfizer to serve our communities and advance our shared goal of improving health equity and expanding access to life-changing treatments to create a healthier future for all​.”

Pfizer expects to finance the transaction with existing cash on hand. The proposed transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals and approval by GBT’s stockholders.

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