Pfizer will bring Seagen’s cancer drugs to the world at an unprecedented rate, CEO says

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One of Seagen's biggest technologies to fight cancer: Pfizer's CEO has picked up

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Monday that the pharmaceutical giant will be able to deliver Seagen’s cancer cure to the world “at a scale never seen before” with its $43 billion acquisition.

“We can add value to what Seagen brings,” Bourla said in an interview with CNBC. “It’s pretty much a situation like when we had mRNA in our hands. With our scale, with our capabilities, this is the same here.”

Seagen is a leading developer of drugs called antibody-drug conjugates, or ADCs, which are designed to kill cancer cells and spare healthy ones. ADCs use antibodies to deliver small molecule drugs directly to a tumor site, which may reduce side effects and offer greater efficacy, according to Seagen’s website.

Bourla called ADCs “one of the biggest technologies for fighting cancer” and compared them to the successful mRNA technology, or messenger RNA, that the company helped to manufacture with BioNTech for Covid-19 vaccines. The mRNA technology is basically used as a vehicle to deliver instructions to cells. In Covid vaccines, mRNA technology is used to trick our immune system into developing antibodies against the virus.

ADCs “are turbo-charged guided missiles that attack the cancer cells and can make a big difference,” he said.

Seagen will expand Pfizer’s cancer treatment portfolio, bringing four approved cancer treatments with combined sales of nearly $2 billion in 2022. Seagen’s top seller Adcetris, which treats lymph system cancers, brought in $839 million in – only in sales last year. That’s a 19% increase on the previous year, according to Seagen’s latest earnings release.

Sales of Padcev, a urinary tract cancer treatment, grew 33% last year to $451 million, the company said.

“These medicines are on a strong growth path, with significant lifecycle programs expected to drive use and continued impact growth,” Bourla said on a conference call earlier Monday morning.

Seagen expects to generate approximately $2.2 billion in revenue this year, representing 12% year-over-year growth, according to a Pfizer press release. Pfizer said Seagen could post more than $10 billion in risk-adjusted sales by 2030, “with the potential for significant growth” beyond that year.

The deal comes as Pfizer braces for a decline in Covid-related sales this year, after the vaccine and antiviral pill Paxlovid pushed its 2022 revenue to $100 billion higher than ever. It will help Pfizer sharpen its focus on oncology, an area the company believes will be the industry’s biggest growth market.

Pfizer’s oncology division posted $12.1 billion in revenue last year. The company has 24 treatments approved in the region, including breast cancer treatment Ibrance, according to the press release.

Pfizer expects to complete the deal later this year or in early 2024. The company also expects antitrust regulators to closely review the deal because of its size, but said Bourla during the interview “we think we have a clean case.

“The environment is always challenging and we are preparing for it, but I don’t expect any issues,” he said.

Cancer accounted for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, according to the World Health Organization. The American Cancer Society expects the global burden of cancer to grow significantly by 2040, predicting that new cases will grow to 27.5 million and cancer deaths will hit 16.3 million.

Bourla confirmed during the interview that the impact of cancer reaches far beyond the patients themselves: “If there are no patients, they will be affected as a husband or wife, a daughter or a son will be affected.”

He said: “We can make a huge difference with this technology in our hands.”

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