Pfizer gives ORIC shares big boost with multiple myeloma collab, $25M investment

ORIC Pharmaceuticals now has enough cash to run operations through the first half of 2025 thanks to a $25 million equity investment and a new clinical partnership with Pfizer.

The pharma giant will work with the therapeutic resistance-focused biotech on ORIC-533, an oral small molecule inhibitor of CD73 in phase 2 development for multiple myeloma, according to a Thursday press release

The news sent ORIC's shares climbing Thursday morning to $4.92, a more than 60% boost over the closing price of $3.

Pfizer picked up a little over 5 million shares in ORIC at a price of $4.65 apiece for a total of $25 million. The bite-sized investment tracks with Pfizer’s recent deal activity, which has included smaller bolt-ons rather than a blockbuster deal the industry knows it has the cash to execute. Pfizer executives have indicated an appetite for dealmaking after its success in developing the COVID-19 vaccine Comirnaty.

ORIC, which stands for overcoming resistance in cancer, will gain access to Pfizer’s global development capabilities to drive ORIC-533 through the clinic but keeps full ownership rights. The med will be tested with Pfizer’s experimental BCMA bispecific antibody elranatamab.

Pfizer’s Jeff Settleman, Ph.D., chief scientific officer for oncology R&D, will join ORIC’s board through the agreement. He called ORIC-533 a novel mechanism for multiple myeloma that could help overcome resistance via the combination with elranatamab.

In preclinical data presented at the American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting last week, ORIC-533 showed strong potency and the potential to overcome immune suppression.

Data from a phase 1b trial is due in the first half of 2023.

ORIC will use the funds for clinical trials of ORIC-533, of course, but also development of the EGFR- and HER2-targeted treatment ORIC-114 and prostate cancer therapy ORIC-944. The investment means the biotech can extend its cash runway through the first half of 2025, compared to the second half of 2024 as reported in November in a third-quarter earnings release.

Back in March, ORIC was forced to walk away from lead asset ORIC-101 after it fell short in several early-stage trials. The therapy was being tested in phase 1b trials in combination with various drugs including Pfizer and Astellas' Xtandi for prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, breast cancer and other advanced solid tumors.