Cannabis Watch: Pfizer’s Arena Pharma deal may lead drug company to a cannabis-based treatment
Pfizer Inc.’s presentation of its pending $6.7 billion acquisition of clinical-stage drug company Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. contained no mention of cannabis.
But it turns out that one of several medicines in the development pipeline for Arena Pharmaceuticals ARNA, +0.83% is a drug to treat irritable bowel syndrome called Olorinab, or APD371, which contains the cannabinoid type 2 receptor, an ingredient in cannabis.
Pfizer’s PFE, -1.56% Dec. 13 analyst call on its Arena Pharma acquisition focused primarily on etrasimod, currently in Phase 2 and 3 trials as a treatment for the chronic inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis. It’s also being reviewed as a treatment for Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and eosinophilic esophagitis.
Even though Orloinab may be just a slice of Arena Pharma’s potential revenue, the company has often been included in lists of cannabis drug companies compiled by cannabis industry observers and news outlets. Orloinab is currently the company’s leading candidate in a planned drug pipeline dedicated to cannabinoid therapeutics.
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Earlier this week, Forbes reported that Pfizer’s acquisition of Arena amounts to a bet on medical cannabis and the company’s entry into the pot-derived drug market.
Pfizer would be following in the vein of Jazz Pharmaceuticals Plc JAZZ, +0.98% in its $7.2 billion acquisition of GW Pharmaceuticals Inc., maker of Epidiolex, the first FDA-approved CBD medicine for treating types of severe epilepsy in children. That deal closed in May.
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