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Biohaven taps Pfizer for global Nurtec push in deal worth up to $1.24B

Since scoring an FDA approval earlier this year to both treat and prevent migraine, Biohaven’s Nurtec ODT has jumped out ahead of Big Pharma rival AbbVie in garnering market share among patients who are new to an oral CGRP drug. With a new Pfizer partnership, the company is hoping to take the momentum global.

Biohaven has enlisted Pfizer to lead global commercialization of the migraine drug outside the U.S. Pfizer will pay Biohaven $150 million up front and purchase $350 million in Biohaven’s stock at about $173 per share, a 25% premium to a 20-day average of prior closes. The deal also includes up to $740 million in potential milestone fees, for a total value of up to $1.24 billion.

In addition, Biohaven is set to receive double-digit royalties on sales of the medicine outside the U.S.

Pfizer’s “commercial expertise” is “unmatched,” Biohaven CEO Vlad Coric told analysts on a conference call Tuesday. By tapping its new global partner, Biohaven aims to “increase not only size and revenue of this asset,” but also advance efforts to reach migraine patients worldwide much more quickly.

With the deal, the partners can grow Nurtec ODT into a “massive global brand” that Biohaven “just couldn’t do alone,” Coric added. Biohaven keeps all rights to sell the drug in the U.S.

As for Biohaven’s existing U.S. marketing efforts, the company reported that the drug—the only FDA-approved medicine to both treat and prevent migraines—led the oral CGRP class in new-to-brand prescriptions in the third quarter, capturing 57% of them. The metric measures patients who are new to a branded prescription, rather than those who have switched from a rival. The company reported $136 million in third-quarter sales, a 46% increase from the second quarter and a number that beat the company’s own expectations.

Since its launch last March, Biohaven’s drug has reeled in $336 million. More than 53,000 doctors have written more than 1.1 million prescriptions.

In the acute migraine treatment field, Biohaven’s drug is challenging AbbVie’s Ubrelvy, which generated $162 million in the third quarter of 2021. That drug won its FDA approval a few months before Biohaven’s acute treatment approval.

In the prevention setting, Nurtec ODT is going up against a host of injectable rivals from Big Pharmas Eli Lilly, Amgen and Teva. Lundbeck’s Vyepti, a newer entrant that’s administered through an infusion every three months, also entered the fray last year. Meanwhile, AbbVie’s oral Qulipta just won FDA approval and is expected to become a blockbuster.

Despite all the competition, Biohaven thinks its drug can succeed thanks to its dual FDA approvals. While CEO Coric said the entire CGRP drug class is “outperforming expectations,” Biohaven plans to “continue differentiating” through its unique label, he said.