What's going on?
Pfizer announced plans on Tuesday to buy Biohaven Pharmaceutical in its biggest deal in five years.
What does this mean?
Pfizer’s facing an uphill battle going forward: sales of its Covid vaccine are expected to peter out sooner or later, and some of its biggest-selling cancer drugs are due to lose patent protection in the next few years. So the company’s putting some of its hard-profiteered cash to good use, having already bought drugmakers Trillium Therapeutics and Arena Pharmaceuticals late last year for around $2 billion and $7 billion respectively. It added to that roster on Tuesday, announcing plans to buy Biohaven Pharmaceutical in a deal worth almost $12 billion. The move will give Pfizer access to a migraine drug that brought in nearly $500 million in revenue last year, and is projected to bring in $1 billion by 2024.
Why should I care?
For markets: Patience is a virtue.
Pfizer’s putting up almost $149 for each of Biohaven’s shares – a hefty 78% more than they were worth before the deal was announced. Those kinds of premiums are a pretty standard way to convince the target’s shareholders to accept the deal, but Pfizer may have actually nabbed a bargain: Biohaven’s stock was trading at $143 as recently as mid-February.
The bigger picture: Better late than never, Novavax.
If Pfizer is the drugmaker that got the vaccine party started, Novavax is the one that turns up at midnight with a bottle of schnapps: the company reported its first profitable quarter this week, as its vaccines finally rolled out across the world (tweet this). The company was part of the US-backed race to develop a vaccine in 2020, but it missed out to the likes of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. Now, though, Novavax is hoping that its more traditional technology will appeal to holdouts, as though antivaxxers were only ever a protein-based solution away from civic-mindedness.