Pfizer continues deal spree with Redvax CMV vaccine buyout

Pfizer ($PFE) has added an acquisition pact to its latest string of deals. The pharma giant said today that it is buying out Redvax, a subsidiary of Switzerland's Redbiotec, in order to get its hands on a preclinical cytomegalovirus (CMV) vaccine candidate.

There were no numbers in the announcement, but Pfizer says it gained a controlling interest in the vaccine subsidiary, gaining bragging rights as one of the leaders in CMV research. CMV is a herpes virus, infecting 50% to 90% of the adult population, though most people remain asymptomatic. But a vaccine could prove useful in preventing pregnant women from passing the virus along to their unborn children.

Vaccines represent one of Pfizer's 6 core R&D focuses. Its pipeline already includes new jabs designed to prevent infections like Meningococcal B, hospital-acquired Staphylococcus aureus infection and Clostridium difficile colitis. Therapeutic vaccines for smoking cessation and allergic asthma are also in development.

Pfizer was stymied for much of 2014 by its unsuccessful bid to buy AstraZeneca ($AZN). But in the last few weeks the deal team at the pharma giant has been unleashed. Just two weeks ago Pfizer partnered with Opko Health on a Phase III long acting growth hormone, paying $295 million upfront and promising up to $275 million more on regulatory milestones. That deal closely followed a gene therapy partnership with Spark Therapeutics, which came just weeks after Pfizer made an $850 million upfront payment to partner with Merck KGaA on a preclinical immuno-oncology program, marking the highest upfront ever paid in an industry licensing deal.

Back in July, Zurich-based Redbiotec teamed with GE Healthcare Life Sciences ($GE) to produce new CMV vaccine candidates.

Kathrin Jansen

"We are working to bring innovative vaccines to market that prevent and treat serious diseases," said Kathrin U. Jansen, Ph.D., senior vice president & CSO Vaccine Research & Early Development for Pfizer. "Through the acquisition of the Redvax innovative CMV vaccine platform and expertise we will seek to develop a vaccine to prevent a difficult disease that can have a devastating and lifelong impact on young children."

- here's the release