Pfizer to buy King for $3.6 billion
NEW YORK — Pfizer Inc. will buy a company specializing in pain drugs in a $3.6 billion deal meant to shore up the portfolio of the world’s largest drug company.
The deal to buy King Pharmaceutical Inc., outlined yesterday, is Pfizer’s largest since it bought Wyeth for $68 billion in 2009. Pfizer already has a large stake in the pain drug market with its drugs Lyrica and Celebrex, which combined had more than $5 billion in sales in 2009.
Now the company is betting King’s work on “abuse-resistant’’ pain drugs will pay off and help make up for the revenue it will lose when top sellers such as the cholesterol drug Lipitor lose patent protection in a few years.
King markets one such drug, Embeda, and is seeking approval for two others, Remoxy and Acurox. Remoxy is similar to Purdue Pharma LP’s OxyContin, the top-selling painkiller in the United States. Both are designed to treat pain by slowly releasing the narcotic oxycodone. But the time-release mechanism on OxyContin can be defeated if the drug is crushed or dissolved, allowing users to get a high similar to heroin’s. Embeda is also designed to resist abuse, but it contains morphine.
The Food and Drug Administration has held up approval of Remoxy and Acurox, partly because it wants more proof they will cut down on abuse. King plans to file a new application for Remoxy in the fourth quarter of 2010 and one for Acurox in the first quarter of 2011.
The deal also gives Pfizer products like EpiPen, a pre-filled injection designed to quickly treat serious allergic reactions.