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Pfizer Buys CovX to Beef Up Product Pipeline

Pfizer Inc. said Dec. 18 that it will buy CovX, a privately held biotechnology company based in La Jolla, to enhance its product pipeline.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

CovX, which creates long-acting drugs, has already generated one early-stage diabetes candidate and two early-stage cancer treatments. CovX was founded in 2002 based on the research of Carlos Barbas III and Richard Lerner at The Scripps Research Institute.

Pfizer says CovX scientists would remain with the company, which will operate as a division of Pfizer’s new Biotherapeutic and Bioinnovation Center, based in the Bay Area.

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Increasing competition from generic drug makers has led Pfizer and other large pharmaceutical companies to explore acquisitions and collaborations in biologics, which have proven more difficult to copy than pharmaceuticals.

Pfizer is facing some major hurdles because cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor goes off patent in 2010 and its planned replacement, torcetrapid, was abandoned because of concerns about mortality rates. Additionally, both Viagara and Geodon, a schizophrenia drug, will be faced with generic competitors by 2014.

Pfizer announced a plan in December 2006 to invest $10 million a year for five years to help startup biotech companies in San Diego. Pfizer has the option to purchase the companies at fair market value.

, Heather Chambers

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