Pfizer buys controlling stake in herpes vaccine developer Redvax, strengthening its arsenal

MarketsAssociated Press

Pfizer continued its aggressive push into the development of new vaccines, announcing the acquisition of a controlling stake in Switzerland's Redvax GmbH on Monday.

The privately-held company is working on a herpes vaccine for human cytomegalovirus, known as CMV, which infects between 50 percent and 90 percent of adults, according to Pfizer, most of whom show no symptoms.

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Pregnant women are at higher risk of infection and can pass it on to a fetus, which could cause hearing loss or neurological disorders. In the U.S., about 5,000 children are born every year with health problems cause by CMV, Pfizer said.

Pfizer Inc. spent $635 million last month on two vaccines made by Baxter International Inc. as the New York pharmaceutical builds out its portfolio.

Pfizer is in a race with Novartis to develop a new meningitis vaccine and both companies snagged the coveted breakthrough therapy designation from federal regulators last year.

Redvax is a spinoff of privately-held Swiss biopharmaceutical company Redbiotec AG.