Pharma

Pfizer acquires Icagen for $56 million

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) will acquire North Carolina drug development company Icagen (NASDAQ:ICGN) for $56 million in a move to bolster its own pain drug pipeline. Under terms of the agreement, Pfizer, which already owns about 11 percent of Research Triangle Park-based Icagen’s stock, will acquire the remaining 8.3 million Icagen stock for $6 per share. Pfizer […]

Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) will acquire North Carolina drug development company Icagen (NASDAQ:ICGN) for $56 million in a move to bolster its own pain drug pipeline.

Under terms of the agreement, Pfizer, which already owns about 11 percent of Research Triangle Park-based Icagen’s stock, will acquire the remaining 8.3 million Icagen stock for $6 per share.

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Pfizer and Icagen have partnered for the last four years to develop Icagen’s pain drug compounds. Icagen’s research focuses on compounds that modulate ion channels, protein structures found in the cells of the human body. The companies explain that these channels are important in the generation of electrical signals in nerve fibers that mediate the initiation, transmission and sensation of pain. They add that selectively targeting these channels could result in pain treatments with fewer side effects.

Icagen’s lead drug candidate ICA-105665 is being researched in phase 2 clinical trials to address pain and epilepsy. Under the 2007 collaboration agreement, Pfizer has been financing development of ICA-105665. That deal gave Pfizer worldwide rights to commercialize the drug and could have awarded Icagen nearly $360 million in R&D, regulatory and commercialization milestones. But now Icagen and its drug technology will join Pfizer’s pain and sensory disorders regenerative medicine unit called Neusentis.

“Icagen’s capabilities and core ion channel technology will help to further expand Pfizer’s position in the pain relief disease area and our ability to develop potential first-in-industry drugs for the treatment of pain and related disorders,” Neusentis Senior Vice President Ruth McKernan said in a prepared statement.

Late last month, Icagen acknowledged that it had entered discussions with Pfizer on a “strategic transaction,” news that sent the company’s stock to a new 52-week high. Besides the pain drug candidates, Icagen’s pipeline also includes compounds addressing inflammatory disorders and asthma, as well as a library of about 250,000 small molecules that have potential activity at ion channel targets.

Under the terms of the definitive merger agreement, Pfizer will now commence a tender offer to purchase all of the outstanding shares of Icagen common stock for $6 per share in cash. The companies expect to close the acquisition by the end of the year.