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Pfizer continues pandemic-revenue buying spree with $5.4 billion hematology deal

Pfizer will spend about $5.4 billion to buy Global Blood Therapeutics as the pharmaceutical giant continues to invest some of the cash influx reaped during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pfizer said Monday that the acquisition will boost its capabilities in rare hematology. Global Therapeutics makes Oxybryta tablets for treating sickle cell disease.

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The latest deal follows Pfizer’s $11.6 billion acquisition of Biohaven, which the companies announced in May, and a $6.7 billion acquisition of Arena Pharmaceuticals announced last December.

Pfizer also announced in April a smaller acquisition to buy the privately held ReViral Ltd., which is developing a treatment for respiratory syncytial virus.

Pfizer Inc.’s top-selling COVID-19 vaccine and treatment have left the New York City drugmaker flush with cash to spend on an acquisition spree. The vaccine and treatment brought in more than $16 billion combined just in the recently completed second quarter.

Pfizer’s vaccine, Comirnaty, rang up nearly $37 billion in sales last year alone, but those sales are expected to fade in a few years. Pfizer also faces over the next decade the loss of patent protection for key products like Eliquis for preventing blood clots and strokes.

The company plans to have about $25 billion in sales by 2030 come from new business developments.

Aamir Malik, the company’s chief business innovation officer, told analysts recently that Pfizer was “leaving very few stones unturned” in looking for expansion opportunities. Malik said Pifzer was looking for deals that will speed up growth in the back half of the decade and can add substantial value either scientifically or commercially.

“I think we’re very excited about the opportunities that are ahead of us and the flexibility that our balance sheet gives us to pursue those,” he said during a call to discuss second-quarter results.

Aside from Oxbryta, Global Blood Therapeutics also is developing some other treatments for sickle cell disease.

Oxbryta sales were about $195 million last year, but Pfizer said it plans to speed up distribution of the drug to parts of the world most impacted by the disease.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder that can lead to bouts of acute pain and organ damage. It occurs particularly among people of African descent.

Pfizer will pay $68.50 per share in cash for each share of Global Blood Therapeutics. That represents a premium of nearly 43% from the stock’s closing price of $47.99 on Aug. 4, the day before The Wall Street Journal reported that Pfizer was in advanced talks on a deal.

Both companies’ boards have approved the deal, which still needs regulatory approval and approval from GBT shareholders. The companies say the deal could close as soon as the fourth quarter.

Shares of Global Blood Therapeutics Inc., based just outside San Francisco, rose more than 4% to $66.68 before the opening bell. Shares of Pfizer were essentially flat.