Sector News

New Pfizer CEO’s top priorities? Think China and pipeline, not deals: analyst

December 18, 2018
Life sciences

Wondering how much incoming Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla is going to shake things up at the drugmaker? Not much, apparently. “Ian’s vision is my vision,” Bourla said of predecessor Ian Read at an analyst lunch where he sketched out his plans.

Investors should “expect a smooth transition,” Credit Suisse’s Vamil Divan wrote in an investor note after the gathering.

That sentiment may not surprise Pfizer-watchers, considering Bourla is already on Read’s executive leadership team. But the succession announcement this fall touched off a wave of speculation about whether Bourla shared Read’s current conception of Pfizer—as a company propelled by its own pipeline—or his penchant for megadeals, well-documented in recent years.

“We think Bourla could be more aggressive when it comes to large-scale M&A appetite given the company’s need to generate growth beyond 2020,” Barclays analyst Geoff Meacham wrote to clients earlier this year.

For now, though, Bourla thinks Pfizer has plenty of opportunities to succeed on its own. In Asia, for instance.

“The opportunity for Pfizer in China in particular was raised multiple times during the lunch given volumes that are growing ‘exponentially’ and with that market now Pfizer’s second largest behind the U.S.,” Divan wrote.

Bourla also touted a pair of key pipeline prospects that could move the needle in 2019: anti-inflammatory product tanezumab and tafamidis, a treatment for polyneuropathy. The company will be plowing more money into R&D to help get those drugs and others through the clinic, shifting spending away from SG&A as it prepares for Lyrica’s fall off the patent cliff.

But it’s those same prospects that could put a damper on dealmaking activity, Divan noted. After all, big deals are distracting.

Pfizer will “continue to analyze various business development opportunities as they arise, but feel they have a unique window of opportunity to properly launch some of their upcoming products and do not want to risk that with the additional operational disruption a large deal might cause,” he wrote.

By Carly Helfand

Source: Fierce Pharma

comments closed

Related News

February 25, 2024

Pharma CFOs need R&D vigilance in tough economic times

Life sciences

As inflation, high interest rates and a tight investment environment continue to create headaches, 72% of CFOs said economic volatility poses the same or greater risk to their business this year compared to 2023 in a recent survey from BDO — and there are more changes afoot.

February 25, 2024

Agilent CEO Mike McMullen to retire, succeeded by lab services head

Life sciences

McMullen, who’s also currently president of Agilent, is set to abdicate both roles on May 1, according to an announcement the company put out Wednesday afternoon. From there, McMullen will spend a few months serving as an advisor to Agilent and to his successor until his retirement becomes final on Oct. 31.

February 25, 2024

AstraZeneca completes Gracell Biotechnologies acquisition for $1.2bn

Life sciences

AstraZeneca has concluded its acquisition of China-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Gracell Biotechnologies for $1.2bn. The acquisition, initially agreed in December 2023, positions Gracell as a wholly owned AstraZeneca subsidiary with operations continuing in the US and China.

How can we help you?

We're easy to reach