Allergan, Pfizer merger to boost R&D, cosmetic options

January 11, 2016

Following the merger of Pfizer and Allergan, Brent Saunders, Allergan's chief executive officer, will be president and chief operating officer of the newly combined company, called Pfizer plc. He spoke to us about the long-term impact the merger will have on the company and on the dermatology industry.

In November, Pfizer and Allergan announced they’d merge to create the world’s largest pharmaceutical powerhouse, in what is the second largest merger of all time, according to Dealogic. Dermatologists around the world are intimate with Allergan Medical’s blockbuster portfolio of brands from Botox, Juvéderm and Kybella (deoxycholic acid) to Aczone (dapsone), for acne.

Brent Saunders, Allergan’s chief executive officerBrent Saunders, Allergan’s chief executive officer, will be president and chief operating officer of the combined company, called Pfizer plc. Saunders told Dermatology Timesthat dermatologists and their patients probably won’t notice a short-term impact from the merger, which will be completed mid-2016. Long-term, it’s a different story.

“Very similar to when Actavis merged with Allergan, there was no commercial overlap between the companies. That holds true with Pfizer and Allergan. There is no overlap in dermatology and plastics. As a result, I would expect that there should be very little change or impact in Allergan Medical and how it’s run and how it serves the dermatology and plastic surgery communities,” Saunders says. “Over the medium- and longer-terms, I think the impact could be very positive and constructive. I think our ability to invest in innovation and [research and development] R&D will be enhanced. We will have a combined R&D budget of around $9 billion… one of the largest research budgets in the world, of which a proportion will be focused both on dermatology and plastic [surgery] innovation.”

Allergan Medical’s focus will remain in facial aesthetics and in plastics, he says.

In the pipeline are continued investments in different applications for neuromodulators and to improve fillers Juvéderm and Voluma, as well as in looking to expand the aesthetic and even therapeutic indications for Kybella, Saunders says.

“We have programs for rosacea; we have programs for acne; we have programs for hair loss. And as we come together with Pfizer, they have a depth in capability in a class called [Janus kinase inhibitors] JAK inhibitors…,” he says.

READ: Aesthetics powerhouse Allergan merges with R&D-rich Pfizer

Pfizer’s contribution, according to Saunders, is the company’s research know-how.

“I think when you look at their incredible strength in research and innovation, combined with our strength in product development and commercial capabilities, it really rounds out the picture and the capability to be a world leader in dermatology and plastic surgery,” he says.

The big research budget also calls for meeting unmet medical needs, including for orphan drugs and drugs to treat conditions such as alopecia, according to Saunders.

“…we need to expand our horizons to look at solving some of these harder-to-treat diseases and really create a bridge from the frontier of treatment to cure,” he says. “Over some period of time, our focus should shift from treatment to cure, given our commitment to innovation and ability to invest in research and development.”