Pfizer nabs $95M stake in Valneva as Lyme disease vaccine approaches pivotal study
Pfizer is investing some money in its Lyme disease partner biotech as the pair gears up for a Phase III study.
The Big Pharma chipped in $95 million in equity for Valneva, good enough for an 8.1% stake in the French vaccine maker. Monday’s deal comes after the two companies initially agreed to develop the candidate in April 2020 and a few months after the program read out Phase II pediatric results.
“As the geographic footprint of Lyme disease widens, the medical need for vaccination becomes even more imperative,” Pfizer’s head of vaccines R&D Kathrin Jansen said in a statement. “We are excited to continue partnering with Valneva on the development of VLA15 and look forward to working together to progress the program.”
The equity deal valued Valneva’s stock price at $10.02 per share. Investors reacted warmly to the news, with Valneva shares $VALN jumping 83% while the market was closed for the Juneteenth holiday, after dropping 13% in the final minutes of last Friday’s trading session.
On top of the equity financing, Pfizer and Valneva are also slightly amending their original Lyme disease vaccine deal. Valneva will now take on 40% of the remaining shared development costs instead of 30%, and Pfizer will pay royalties ranging from 14% to 22% instead of starting at 19%. Pfizer will add another $100 million in potential sales milestones as well.
Valneva had made most of its headlines in the last couple years for its work in Covid-19 vaccines, promising to develop an alternative shot to the widely used Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca jabs. Though Valneva’s shot eventually got across the finish line in the UK, the vaccine likely will not be available in Europe much longer after the EU decided to terminate its purchase agreement last month.
And last week, the company said chances of reviving the contract are slim, sending its shares plunging.
But the Lyme disease program has rolled right along, passing a Phase II test for adults last September and achieving its goals in another Phase II study in April. Funds from Monday’s equity financing are expected to go toward the pivotal Phase III trial, which will likely launch in the third quarter, the companies said.