Pfizer to Take Stake in Sosei, Collaborate With Heptares

  • Pfizer to purchase $33 million of newly issued Sosei shares
  • Partnership with U.K.'s Heptares to focus on drug discovery

Pfizer Inc. agreed to buy a 3 percent stake in Sosei Group Corp. and enter into a drug-discovery collaboration with the Japanese company’s U.K. unit to develop new medicines aimed at a handful of biological targets that may play a role in multiple diseases.

Pfizer will purchase $33 million worth of newly issued Sosei shares, the Tokyo-based company said in a statement today. The U.S. drugmaker will pay 7,950 yen ($65) per share, a 25 percent premium to Friday’s closing price.

Heptares, Sosei’s U.K. unit, may receive research, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of as much as $189 million per target, it said. There may be as many as 10 targets. For the company, based in Hertfordshire, England, the partnership with Pfizer adds to pacts with AstraZeneca Plc, Merck & Co. and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Last week, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. said it would collaborate with Heptares to develop drugs for migraines.

Heptares, founded in 2007, uses its StaR drug design technology to target GPCR proteins, which are the site of action of about 40 percent of drugs on the market today. Using the technology, the company aims to develop medicines with better efficacy and fewer side effects for a range of diseases including Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, cancer and migraines.

Sosei acquired Heptares in February to help diversify its revenue, which is largely made up of royalties from Novartis for sales of lung drugs it developed.

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