Pfizer pays $1.3 billion to gain control of Exubera rights

Pfizer will pay Sanofi-Aventis $1.3 billion to acquire worldwide rights to the inhaled human insulin Exubera, a product both companies previously planned to co-develop, co-promote and co-manufacture. The FDA is expected to decide within the next few weeks whether Pfizer can begin selling Exubera. In September, a panel of FDA advisers supported Exubera’s use by patients with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, despite concerns about potential adverse lung effects. Some Wall Street analysts expect the drug to be modest seller while others feel it could earn billions of dollars annually within a few years.  “We sought the Sanofi-Aventis rights to Exubera based on the strong addition it would represent to our portfolio of innovative medicines,” said Hank McKinnell, Pfizer CEO, in a statement yesterday. “The acquisition of these rights also underscores our ability to invest in new product opportunities that will drive our future growth.” Pfizer teamed with Aventis to develop Exubera prior to Sanofi Synthelabo’s acquisition of Aventis in 2004. Pfizer asserted that the merger triggered a change-of-control clause in their contract that opened the door to renegotiation of the agreement. Pfizer brought the matter to U.S. and German courts, leading to yesterday’s deal.