Basilea continues pipeline fill-up by paying Pfizer $37M for Amplyx antifungal

Only two and a half years after Pfizer acquired infectious disease biotech Amplyx for an undisclosed sum, the Big Pharma has sold the lead antifungal asset from that deal to Basilea Pharmaceutica.

In its third deal in a month, Basilea is handing over $37 million upfront for the rights to the broad-spectrum antifungal, called fosmanogepix, as well as the rights to a preclinical antifungal compound. Today’s deal means the Swiss biotech will be liable to pay up to $110 million to Pfizer in commercial milestones should the drug reach the market.

Basilea is also taking on the obligations and rights from previous agreements for the drug, which add up to $396 million in various development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments.

Fosmanogepix has remained in phase 2 development for the treatment of a fungal disease called candidemia and invasive mold infections since Amplyx came under Pfizer’s wing, but Basilea plans to kick-start a phase 3 trial in mid-2024. Pfizer will retain the right of first negotiation for the commercial license to fosmanogepix if it clears phase 3 trials.

It won’t be Basilea’s first interaction with Pfizer, however—the Big Pharma secured the Europe rights to Basilea’s approved antifungal Cresemba back in 2017 and also has the license in China.

Basilea CEO David Veitch hailed today’s deal as a “transformative transaction for us.” As well as Cresemba, the company also owns the antibiotic Zevtera, and Veitch said gaining fosmanogepix “provides a strong commercial near-term opportunity beyond our currently marketed anti-infectives.”

It follows a busy few weeks of dealmaking that saw Basilea acquire an invasive mold infection drug from Gravitas Therapeutics and an endolysin antibacterial from South Korea’s Tonabacase.

“We have now executed three transactions over the course of the last few weeks that have significantly strengthened our clinical-stage portfolio, and we continue to see interesting opportunities for further transactions in the future,” Veitch added.

The recent deals are the latest example of Basilea’s pivot away from oncology to focus solely on anti-infectives, a move that got off to a bumpy start at the beginning of the year when preclinical profiling of an antifungal program purchased from Fox Chase Chemical Diversity Center for an undisclosed fee led the company to hand the asset back.

The terminated agreement was part of an overall restructuring at Basilea that also included the decision not to expand studies for lisavanbulin, a tumor checkpoint controller. Instead, the restructured company pivoted from oncology to focus solely on anti-infectives, such as Zevtera, which is already marketed in Europe and is now awaiting an FDA decision.