Even as it scrambles to join the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) is still open to other ventures. On April 30 the Big Pharma signed a collaboration agreement with French specialty vaccine maker Valneva SE to develop and commercialize Valvena’s Lyme disease drug candidate VLA15, which is currently in Phase 2 clinical studies.
VLA15 is the only active Lyme disease vaccine program in clinical development today and covers six serotypes that are prevalent in North America and Europe. It demonstrated strong immunogenicity and safety data in pre-clinical and Phase 1 studies. The program was granted Fast Track designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in July 2017. Patient enrollment and follow-up for two Phase 2 studies have been completed and Valneva expects to report the first Phase 2 results in mid-2020.
Valneva is eligible to receive a total of $308 million cash payments consisting of a $130 million upfront payment, $35 million in development milestones and $143 million in early commercialization milestones.
Under the terms of the agreement, Valneva will fund 30% of all development costs through completion of the development program, and in return, Pfizer will pay Valneva tiered royalties starting at 19%. Pfizer will lead late-stage development and have sole control over-commercialization.
Meanwhile, Pfizer’s spin-off of its Upjohn division, announced in July 2019, is still underway. Upjohn markets 20 brands of former Pfizer blockbusters, including Celebrex, Lipitor, Norvasc, Lyrica, and Viagra, in more than 120 countries. Pfizer executives revealed some changes to that deal in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call in late January. The Mylan-Upjohn spinoff will be called Viatris and will include Meridian, the manufacturer fo EpiPen and other auto-injectable products, and Mylan-Japan, which is the generics collaboration that Pfizer and Mylan formed in 2012. Revenues from those divisions totaled $598 million, flat operationally, compared with full-year 2018, the company said in its earnings statement.