After a roller coaster of conjecture and stalled talks, cancer drugmaker Seagen has finally been snatched up. Pfizer agreed to buy the firm, formerly known as Seattle Genetics, for $43 billion on March 13. The deal is expected to be completed in late 2023 or early 2024.
Seagen specializes in antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), which link disease-fighting molecules to tumor cell–targeting antibodies. The goal of ADCs is to deliver powerful therapies specifically to tumor cells, sparing healthy cells from collateral damage.
“Oncology is a core therapeutic area for Pfizer, and we believe the proposed combination with Seagen will enhance our position in this important space, while significantly advancing the global fight against cancer,” said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla in a March 13 analyst and investor call discussing the deal. He also emphasized the opportunity to combine Pfizer’s and Seagen’s assets into new therapeutic regimens, citing Seagen’s breast cancer drug Tukysa and Pfizer’s multiple myeloma drug candidate elranatamab as items with combination potential.
Seagen’s drugs will also be moneymakers on their own. Analysts estimate that Seagen’s existing portfolio of four cancer-fighting drugs will bring in more than $8 billion in revenue in 2030, Bourla said. Pfizer also expects Seagen’s pipeline to deliver more than $2 billion in revenues in 2030, he added.
“Bottom line, we believe Seagen could contribute more than 10 billion in risk-adjusted revenues in 2030,” Bourla said, “with potential significant growth beyond 2030.”
David Epstein, Seagen’s CEO, also noted the drug combination potential and several other ways that the deal will benefit his company, such as expanding Seagen products’ reach and accelerating the development of its assets. “In that context, I believe that this is the right merger at the right time,” Epstein said in the investor call.
Seagen was reportedly in talks with Merck in the summer of 2022, but according to a Bloomberg article, the conversation stalled when the two couldn’t see eye to eye on price.
Pfizer has made several other recent acquisitions as it prepares for patent expiries. In a note from SVB Securities, analysts say they expect the deal to “boost the company’s long-term growth prospects and address via a single transaction two-thirds of the company’s remaining $15B target for risk-adj 2030 revenues from BD [business development].” However, they also point out that the $43 billion price tag is more than four times the risk-adjusted 2030 revenue estimate, and that Pfizer doesn’t anticipate the merger being “accretive to earnings” for 3–4 years.