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Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer wins telehealth startup ResApp Health with $179 million acquisition

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The battle for the ASX list ResApp Health Ltd is over with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer acquiring the telehealth startup for $179 million.

The deal went through this week and kicked off in April this year when Pfizer initially offered $100 million — 11.5 cents a share — before increasing its offer to 20.8 cents. Shareholders approved the takeover offer earlier this month. The ACCC signed on to the acquisition in July and ResApp is now a subsidiary of Pfizer and is being delisted.

Founded in 2014, ResApp reached the ASX in July 2015 through a backdoor listing of $11 million. The company raised $4 million at the time, at $0.02 cents per share. Although it climbed to 50 cents in 2016, ResApp’s stock price had remained broadly stable to below 10 cents for the past two years, before rising to 20 cents in the second half of 2022 in response to Pfizer’s revised offer.

The technology behind ResApp claims to diagnose a range of respiratory diseases such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup and even Covid-19, all based on a recording of a cough on a smartphone.

Its two lead products are ResAppDx, a smartphone-based acute respiratory disease diagnostic test for use in telehealth, emergency care and primary care; and SleepCheck, a smartphone application that allows consumers to self-assess their sleep apnea risk. Both products are CE marked in Europe and TGA approved in Australia.

The concept received a Global Grand Challenges grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the company last raised $5.5 million from investors last year. The idea developed by the University of Queensland Associate Professor Udantha Abeyratne and his team at UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.

“We worked closely with pediatricians and respiratory physicians to develop the diagnostic technology,” said Dr. Abeyratne.

ResApp has announced positive results for its Covid-19 screening test in and clinical trials continue, potentially reducing the number of PCR and rapid antigen tests needed to test for Covid.

UQ Vice Chancellor Prof. Deborah Terry said the acquisition was an excellent result for the university and its researchers.

“The value of translating research into new point-of-care diagnostics to improve healthcare on a global scale cannot be underestimated,” she said.

UQ’s commercialization company UniQuest the technology licensed to ResApp in 2014.

UniQuest CEO Dr. Dean Moss said he had been monitoring the company’s growth closely.

“This is one of the most exciting Australian biotech deals to come out of university research,” he said.

“It’s worth it that the company’s technological breakthroughs have gained this important international support.”

Pfizer’s acquisition agreement includes an R&D license agreement with ResApp to collaborate on Covid-19 products, including a $3 million license fee and a $1 million milestone payment based on clinical trial recruitment.

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