Pfizer to Buy Canadian Drug Developer Trillium in $2.26 Billion Deal

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
August 23, 2021 Updated: August 23, 2021

Pfizer has announced plans to acquire Canadian drug developer Trillium Therapeutics Inc. in a $2.26 billion deal meant to boost Pfizer’s arsenal of blood cancer therapies.

Under the deal, announced in an Aug. 23 press release, Pfizer will buy all outstanding Trillium shares at $18.50 apiece, representing a 118 percent premium on the stock’s 60-day weighted average price. In 2020, Pfizer acquired a $25 million stake in Trillium.

Pfizer expects to benefit from Trillium’s blood-cancer therapies, including novel fusion proteins designed to enhance the ability of patients’ immune systems to detect and destroy cancer cells. Trillium’s two lead molecules, TTI-622 and TTI-621, block a signal-regulatory protein known as SIRPα–CD47. The two fusion proteins are currently in clinical studies, with a focus on various types of blood cancer.

“Trillium has the only known SIRPα–CD47 targeting molecules with clinically meaningful monotherapy responses as well as a strong basis for combination therapies,” Dr. Jan Skvarka, chief executive officer of Trillium, said in a statement. “With Pfizer’s global reach and deep capabilities, we believe our programs will advance more quickly to the patients we’ve always aspired to serve.”

Andy Schmeltz, global president and general manager of Pfizer Oncology, expressed a similar optimism regarding the deal.

“The proposed acquisition of Trillium builds on our strong track record of leadership in Oncology, enhancing our hematology portfolio as we strive to improve outcomes for people living with blood cancers around the globe,” Schmeltz said in a statement.

In 2020, more than 1 million people worldwide were diagnosed with hematological malignancies, which are cancers affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes, including various types of leukemia, as well as multiple myeloma.

“Utilizing Pfizer’s leading research and global development capabilities, we plan to accelerate the clinical development of SIRPα fusion proteins as a potential new scientific breakthrough and explore combinations within our own portfolio and with innovative next-generation medicines for hematological malignancies,” Dr. Chris Boshoff, chief development officer, Oncology, Pfizer Global Product Development, said in a statement.

Pfizer, along with development partner BioNTech, developed the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive emergency use authorization in the United States.

On Aug. 23, Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine was the first to receive full approval by the Food and Drug Administration, a much-anticipated move that’s likely to reinforce the Biden administration’s efforts to encourage more Americans to receive the vaccine and businesses to impose mandates on employees requiring them to get inoculated.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'