The battle for ASX-listed ResApp Health Ltd is over with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer acquiring the telehealth startup for $179 million.
The deal went through this week, having started back in April this year when Pfizer initially offered $100 million – 11.5 cents a share – before increasing its bid to 20.8 cents. Shareholders approved the takeover bid earlier this month. The ACCC signed off on the takeover in July, and ResApp is now a Pfizer subsidiary and delisted.
Founded in 2014, ResApp hit the ASX in July 2015 via an $11 million backdoor listing. The company raised $4 million at the time, at $0.02 cents a share. While it climbed to 50 cents in 2016, ResApp’s share price had largely flatlined over the last two years at below 10 cents before climbing to 20 cents in the second half of 2022 in response to the revised Pfizer bid.
The tech behind ResApp claims to diagnose a range of respiratory conditions such as asthma, pneumonia, bronchiolitis, croup and even Covid-19, all from a recording of a cough on a smartphone.
Its two key products are ResAppDx, a smartphone-based acute respiratory disease diagnostic test for use in telehealth, emergency department and primary care settings; and SleepCheck, a smartphone application which allows consumers to self-assess their risk of sleep apnoea. Both products are CE Marked in Europe and TGA approved in Australia.
The concept scored a Global Grand Challenges grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the company most recently raised $5.5 million from investors last year. The idea developed by University of Queensland Associate Professor Udantha Abeyratne and his team at UQ’s School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering.
“We worked closely with paediatricians and respiratory physicians to develop the diagnostic technology,” Dr Abeyratne said.
ResApp announced positive results for its Covid-19 screening test in and clinical trials are continuing, 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 outstanding outcome 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 understated,” she said.
UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest licensed the tech to ResApp in 2014.
UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said he had watched the growth of the company keenly.
“This is one of the most exciting Australian biotech deals to come out of university research,” he said.
“It’s rewarding that the company’s technological breakthroughs have attracted this significant international backing.”
The Pfizer acquisition deal includes an R&D licence agreement with ResApp to collaborate on Covid-19 products, including a $3 million up-front licence fee and a $1 million milestone payment based on clinical trial recruitment.