Pfizer is feeling lucky with its $6.7 billion cannabis acquisition

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Pfizer, a New York-based Big Pharma company with a global portfolio that features vaccines and well-known pharmaceutical drugs such as Viagra and Xanax is preparing to make a bold entry into the legal cannabis industry.

An investment of $6.7 billion accompanied Pfizer’s recent announcement about entering the medical cannabis market. This substantial contribution focuses on an up-and-coming cannabinoid-based bowel disease treatment that Pfizer could make some serious bank from.

The agreement was secured with a signature from officials at the American multinational pharmaceutical and biotechnology corporation, which will collaborate alongside clinical-stage company Arena Pharmaceuticals to bring the cannabinoid product to market.

Pfizer will pay $100 for each of Arena’s shares in an all-cash transaction; contingent on stockholder and regulatory approvals. A COVID-19 vaccine is currently being offered by the company “BioNTech”.

Company financial statements suggested that Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna would generate pre-tax profits of $34 billion from the vaccinations in 2021.

Who is Arena Pharmaceuticals? 

A biotechnology company with a division devoted to the experimental creation of cannabinoid-type therapeutics, Arena Pharmaceuticals prides itself on its broad adoption of an oral solution called Olorinab (APD371). This complete agonist of the cannabinoid type 2 receptor (CB2) is designed to treat patients who endure stomach- and intestine-affecting diseases.

Presently, Arena’s team are working hard to further develop the drug’s safety and efficacy in cases of gastrointestinal disorder-associated visceral pain. According to a statement published on Arena’s website, Olorinab is an “investigational drug and is not currently approved for use by any health authority.”

Olorinab works by initiating a physical response when it binds with the CB2 receptor one of two main receptors (the other being CB1) that bind to the body’s intricate cell-signaling system, the Endocannabinoid System (ECS).

While plant-derived cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) can each bind to important action-influencing receptors inside the ECS, the response depends on reception-specific interaction and a person’s unique biochemistry.

Pfizer’s capabilities could help Arena to execute its vision

President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Arena, Amit D. Munshi, feels confident that Pfizer’s expertise will catapult Arena into a prime position for expanding on and delivering its message. This transaction, Munshi says, is the best possible next stage for patients and shareholders alike.

All the while, the San Diego, California-based company’s CEO says that Pfizer harbors the power to help Arena gain trust from the many patients it intends on distributing medicine to. 

“The proposed acquisition of Arena complements our capabilities and expertise in Inflammation and Immunology, a Pfizer innovation engine developing potential therapies for patients with debilitating immuno-inflammatory diseases with a need for more effective treatment options,” Global President of Inflammation & Immunology, Mike Gladstone, said in the press release announcing Pfizer’s cannabis plan.

Pfizer aside, two other examples of Big Pharma businesses that have joined the blossoming cannabis space include GW Pharmaceuticals and Novartis.