Arena Pharmaceuticals' Pipeline Includes Bowel Disease Treatments

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Dec. 13 2021, Published 1:09 p.m. ET

While some conglomerates (like Johnson & Johnson) are segmenting, others—like pharmaceutical giant Pfizer—are piling on the acquisitions. Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE) has announced plans to acquire drug developer Arena Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ARNA) in an all-cash deal worth billions.

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Here's what Arena Pharmaceuticals is focusing on in its pipeline, and why the funds from the Pfizer buyout could put drug developments in the fast lane.

What does the Pfizer-Arena Pharmaceuticals deal entail?

Pfizer plans to purchase San Diego-based Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. for $6.7 billion (entirely in cash, no less). Pfizer is reportedly pursuing the acquisition in order to expand its scope of treatments. Pfizer will buy out Arena stock at a rate of $100 per share, which is about twice ARNA's stock price just before the deal was announced.

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The acquisition is a follow-up to another buyout in which Pfizer purchased blood cancer treatment company Trillium Therapeutics for more than $2.2 billion.

Arena Pharmaceuticals focuses on three therapeutic niches.

Arena Pharmaceuticals' areas of focus are:

  • Gastroenterology: Inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and eosinophilic esophagitis

  • Dermatology: Atopic dermatitis and alopecia

  • Cardiovascular: Acute heart failure and microvascular obstruction

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Etrasimod is Arena's top contender.

Arena's top treatment currently in the pipeline is called etrasimod. The drug is in a late-stage clinical study to determine its impact on patients with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. These inflammatory bowel diseases cause ulcers in a patient's digestive tract.

Etrasimod also treats eosinophilic esophagitis, which is a disease that causes white blood cells to build up in the lining of the esophagus.

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Arena is researching etrasimod's impact on other immune-mediated and inflammatory diseases, namely atopic dermatitis and alopecia areata.

There are more drugs in Arena's pipeline.

Arena is experimenting with a drug RIST4721 for applications like inflammatory bowel disease and PPP (palmoplantar pustulosis). PPP results in puss-filled blisters on a patient's hands and feet. The disease is rare but recurring and painful. RIST4721 is also being experimented on patients with hidradenitis suppurativa—a condition that causes small, painful bumps to grow below the patient's skin.

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Olorinab is a drug that's currently in phase two clinical trials. The drug aims to treat pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

ADP418 is working amid phase two clinical trials to treat acute heart failure.

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Temanogrel is a phase two drug working to treat microvascular obstruction, which causes damage or dysfunction in parts of the coronary circulation network after occluded coronary artery reperfusion. Arena is also researching temanogrel to determine its impact on Raynaud's phenomenon that's caused by systemic sclerosis. (Raynaud's phenomenon is one type of Raynaud's that's caused by an underlying condition—in this case, systemic sclerosis.)

How does Arena's pipeline fit in with Pfizer's goals?

Like Arena, Pfizer has an ulcerative colitis treatment in the works. Pfizer's contender is in mid-stage studies and is poised to be completed by the end of 2022. The Arena acquisition will help Pfizer deliver a more effective and robust treatment solution than it might have otherwise been able to achieve.

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