Pfizer shells out $11.6B for Biohaven migraine meds

All that COVID-19 vaccine money seems to be burning a hole in Pfizer's pocket. The pharma titan announced it will buy migraine drugmaker Biohaven Pharmaceutical for $11.6 billion as Pfizer looks to expand its pipeline.

The deal, Pfizer’s biggest since a 2016 purchase of cancer drugmaker Medivation, will give Pfizer access to Biohaven’s migraine meds, including rimegepant, sold under the name Nurtec ODT in the U.S.

The sale came on the heels of an agreement signed in November 2021, where Pfizer bought the overseas licensing rights of Nurtec from Biohaven for $1.24 billion in cash and invested $350 million giving Pfizer a 2.6% stake in the company. Now, Pfizer will snap up the remaining Biohaven shares it does not currently own at $148.50 apiece.

As part of the agreement, Pfizer will take over Biohaven’s calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) migraine treatments. CGRP is a protein that when released around the brain can cause inflammation and pain. The shining star of Biohaven’s migraine program is Nurtec, which is on its way to reaching blockbuster status with sales of $462.5 million in 2021. There is also zavegepant, which has been filed with the U.S. FDA as a nasal spray for fast-acting migraine relief with an oral soft gel in the works. According to Pfizer, zavegepant is on track for FDA approval by the end of June.

There are also five pre-clinical CGRP assets that will be handed over to Pfizer as part of the deal.

Pfizer has high hopes for the purchase, looking to build off the massive success of its COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty, which raked in almost $37 billion in sales in 2021.

“We believe Pfizer is uniquely positioned to help the portfolio reach its full potential given our leading scale and capabilities, including comprehensive field force engagement with Primary Care Physicians, specialists and health systems delivering the right information at the right time,” said Nick Lagunowich, global president of Pfizer Internal Medicine

The sale was approved after all board members from both companies voted yes. Pfizer will use cash on hand to pay for the deal with Biohaven, it said.