Biogen buys Pfizer’s schizophrenia drug

Biogen is buying Pfizer’s experimental drug PF-04958242, which is being developed for cognitive impairment associated with schizophrenia, in a deal that could be worth $590 million.

PF-04958242 is an AMPA receptor potentiator designed to facilitate neurotransmission, a process often disrupted in a number of neurological and psychiatric diseases, such as schizophrenia. The drug has already shown an “acceptable safety profile and treatment effect trends” in various domains of cognition in Phase Ib clinical studies, Biogen said, adding that it aims to start a Phase IIb trial in the second half of the year.

Biogen will pay Pfizer $75 million upfront, as well as up to $515 million in additional development and commercialisation milestone payments, as well as tiered royalties in the low to mid-teen percentages.

More than 20 million people around the globe have schizophrenia, the majority of which are thought to be living with some degree of cognitive impairment attributable to the disease.

“Given the significant unmet patient need and Biogen’s ability to apply its scientific expertise in this area, we are enthusiastic to advance development of this asset as we continue to expand our neuroscience pipeline, including in our emerging growth areas such as neuropsychiatry,” said the firm’s chief executive Michel Vounatsos.