- While still negotiating a megamerger with Pfizer, Allergan has chosen to expand its R&D portfolio with early-stage compounds being developed for the treatment of autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
- Allergan is paying an undisclosed amount to a startup company for the development of the drugs. Rugen Therapeutics specializes in development of central nervous system (CNS) medications, as well as therapies for treatment of autism and spectrum disorders.
- The $160 billion merger deal between Pfizer and Allergan likely won't close until the second half of 2016.
There has been a subtle, but notable, shift in Allergans' R&D approach since the proposed merger with Pfizer was announced. Previously, Allergan had publicly extolled its internal R&D prowess, with CEO Brent Saunders stressing the value of drug discovery and developing a strong pipeline.
Allergan now appears to be following in the footsteps of the many companies who have turned to academic and biotech sources for new drug candidates. Last week, BioPharma Dive ran a feature in which James Crowley, managing director of life sciences strategy at Accenture Life Sciences, discussed the strategies being used by pharma companies to thrive during a period of industry consolidation. Some companies now rely more on strategic acquisitions and less on in-house discovery and development.
With Rugen, Allergan aims to support development of CNS drugs, focusing on areas with continued unmet medical needs—autism, for example. Although the drugs in question are still in the earliest preclinical stages, Allergan is optimistic about their long-term prospects.