New York-based pharmaceutical firm Pfizer has disclosed plans of investing approximately $600 million in biotech startups via its venture capital unit, Pfizer Ventures. According to the vice president of Pfizer and Pfizer Ventures senior managing partner, Barbara Dalton, the venture capital unit of the pharmaceutical giant will invest in emerging firms which are advancing technologies and compounds in the hope of developing life-changing therapies for patients who require the treatments.
“Building on our existing investments and proven track-record, we will look to identify and invest in emerging companies that are advancing compounds and technologies with the hope of delivering life-changing therapies to patients in need,” Dalton said.
Around 25% of the capital, or $150 million, will be invested in neuroscience firms which are at an early stage. Some of the companies in the portfolio of Pfizer Ventures which focus on this include Neuronetics, MISSION, MindImmune, Cortexyme, Autifony and Aquinnah. Pfizer Ventures also recently invested in Strata Oncology, Jnana Therapeutics, eFFECTOR Therapeutics, DIR Technologies, CYdan II, Complexa and Adapsyn Bioscience.
This is not the first time Pfizer is demonstrating an interest in early-stage startups. In 2017 SpringWorks Therapeutics was spun out by the pharmaceutical giant in order to develop experimental therapies that were in the clinical stage. Pfizer Ventures also led a series A round worth $103 million with the assistance of LifeArc, OrbiMed and Bain Capital. SpringWorks was later granted the right to develop four therapies which are used in the treatment of various conditions including cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder.Currently the number of firms that are under the management of Pfizer Ventures is 40 with a total of approximately $0.5 billion having been invested in startups.
Venture investing team
The team at Pfizer Ventures will also be significantly added although it will continue under the leadership of Dalton. Currently Pfizer’s venture investing team comprises of Bill Burkoth and Elaine Jones and the new faces to be added include Nikola Trbovic, Chris O’Donell, Margi McLoughlin, Laszlo Kiss and Dennis Patrick.
This comes in the wake of Pfizer issuing a recall of Naxolone in the United States citing the likelihood of harmful side effects. Naxolone is used in the treatment of opioid overdoses. In the sterile injectable drugs category which includes injectable opioids and naxolone, the market share of Pfizer in the United States is 75%. However the pharmaceutical giant has been facing problems with regards to quality control and was last year sent a warning letter by the Food and Drug Administration.