- Pfizer has bought privately held Amplyx Pharmaceuticals for an undisclosed sum, gaining experimental antifungal and antiviral treatments as the world’s attention turns more toward infectious diseases.
- Amplyx’s most advanced treatment is an antifungal called fosmanogepix, which the companies claim offers a new way to treat potentially life-threatening invasive infections caused by molds and yeasts. Amplyx’s pipeline also includes an early-stage antiviral known as MAU868 and antifungal known as APX2039.
- The purchase, terms of which weren’t disclosed, follows an equity investment Pfizer made in Amplyx’s Series C financing in December 2019. Other investors in that round included Adage Capital Management, BioMed Ventures and Sofinnova Investments.
Pharmaceutical industry leaders are increasingly focused on infectious diseases amid the COVID-19 pandemic and growing concern over treatment-resistant superbugs. In July, a group of drugmakers including Pfizer announced they raised almost $1 billion for a partnership promising to deliver two to four new antibiotics by 2030.
Apart from vaccines, Pfizer’s anti-infective pipeline was thin before the Amplyx acquisition, with a treatment for COVID-19 in Phase 1 studies and an antibiotic in Phase 3. But the company’s head of hospital products, Angela Lukin, said Wednesday that Pfizer is “deeply committed” to its infectious disease program.
Fosmanogepix could prove to be a weapon against fungal infections because of its mechanism of action, Pfizer said. The Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved a new class of antifungal therapies in almost 20 years. Researchers are currently studying both oral and intravenous forms of the drug, which in theory would help patients transition from the hospital to home.
Amplyx is looking at fosmanogepix’s potential against four diseases, with fungal infections caused by the yeast Candida the furthest along in research. MAU868 is in Phase 1 studies for conditions associated with the BK virus, which is latent in most people but can cause serious complications for those who are immunocompromised. And APX2039 is in preclinical studies to treat cryptococcus.
The deal probably won’t ever be a “meaningful driver” for Pfizer profits, Mizuho Securities analyst Vamil Divan wrote in a note to investors. But it does highlight the commitment by Pfizer to go after a large unmet need for new infectious disease treatments, Divan said.
It also fits into Pfizer’s larger strategy of seeking innovation from the biotech industry. Last year, Pfizer committed $500 million to its Breakthrough Growth Initiative, targeting mostly publicly traded biotechs.
Pfizer’s biggest business in 2020 was its oncology drugs, which accounted for almost $11 billion in revenue. It’s also expecting a major boost in 2021 from the COVID-19 vaccine developed with BioNTech. In February, Pfizer projected the vaccine would bring in revenue of about $15 billion in 2021.