Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is buying Arena Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: ARNA) in an all-cash transaction valued at $6.7 billion. Arena is a clinical-stage company developing innovative potential therapies for the treatment of several immuno-inflammatory diseases. Arena gets pulled into the cannabis industry through its drug Olorinab or APD371, which is an oral Crohn’s disease pain drug that targets the CB2 receptor of the naturally occurring cannabinoid receptor system in our bodies. Olorinab (APD371) is an investigational, oral, peripherally acting, highly selective, full agonist of the cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2). Arena is exploring the drug for development in several indications, with an initial focus on visceral pain associated with gastrointestinal disorders. The company said that this compound, through its selectivity for CB2 versus CB1, is under investigation for pain relief without psychoactive adverse effects.
“The proposed acquisition of Arena complements our capabilities and expertise in Inflammation and Immunology, a Pfizer innovation engine developing potential therapies for patients with debilitating immuno-inflammatory diseases with a need for more effective treatment options,” said Mike Gladstone, Global President & General Manager, Pfizer Inflammation and Immunology. “Utilizing Pfizer’s leading research and global development capabilities, we plan to accelerate the clinical development of etrasimod for patients with immuno-inflammatory diseases.”
In addition to the cannabis drug, Arena’s pipeline includes two development-stage cardiovascular assets, temanogrel and APD418. Temanogrel is currently in Phase 2 for the treatment of microvascular obstruction and Raynaud’s phenomenon secondary to systemic sclerosis. APD418 is currently in Phase 2 for acute heart failure. In addition to that, there are two Phase 3 studies in ulcerative colitis (UC), a Phase 2/3 program in Crohn’s Disease, a planned Phase 3 program in atopic dermatitis, and ongoing Phase 2 studies in eosinophilic esophagitis and alopecia areata.
“We’re delighted to announce Pfizer’s proposed acquisition of Arena, recognizing Arena’s potentially best in class S1P molecule and our contribution to addressing unmet needs in immune-mediated inflammatory diseases,” said Amit D. Munshi, President and Chief Executive Officer of Arena. “Pfizer’s capabilities will accelerate our mission to deliver our important medicines to patients. We believe this transaction represents the best next step for both patients and shareholders.”