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AZ adds gout drug Zurampic to asset sale

Ironwood Pharmaceuticals buys exclusive US rights to the therapy and follow-up product
AstraZeneca

Gout therapy Zurampic is the latest product to be sold off by AstraZeneca in a drive to focus its energies on core product categories.

The licensing agreement gives Ironwood Pharmaceuticals exclusive US rights to Zurampic (lesinurad), which was approved by the FDA in December 2015, as well as a follow-up combination product due to be submitted for approval later this year.

Developed by AZ's Ardea Biosciences subsidiary, Zurampic is a first-in-class selective uric acid reabsorption inhibitor (SURI) that is approved for use in combination with a xanthine oxidase inhibitor (XOI), such as generic allopurinol or Takeda's Uloric (febuxostat). The follow-up drug is a fixed-dose combination with allopurinol.

Under the terms of the agreement, Ironwood will pay AZ milestone payments of up to $265m as well as tiered single-digit royalties on sales. AZ will manufacture the drug and provide other support, and also retains responsibility for a safety profile study requested by the FDA as a condition of approval.

The deal gives AZ another cash injection as it weathers the loss of blockbuster brands such as cholesterol drug Crestor (rosuvastatin) and Nexium (esomeprazole) for gastrointestinal diseases and brings new pipeline projects through to market.

Last month, AZ sold European rights to its opioid-induced constipation treatment Moventig (naloxegol) to ProStrakan and transferred Chinese rights to two elderly cardiovascular drugs - Plendil (felodipine) and Imdur (isosorbide mononitrate) - to China Medical System Holdings.

It had previously divested ex-US rights to inflammatory bowel disease therapy Entocort (budesonide) to Tillotts Pharma and sold late-stage psoriasis candidate brodalumab to Valeant.

AZ's head of global product and portfolio strategy, Luke Miels, said the agreement with Ironwood "will ensure the successful launch of Zurampic in the US, while allowing us to concentrate our resources on the innovative medicines in our main therapy areas".

The UK's second-largest drugmaker is focusing its resources on oncology, inflammation and autoimmunity and cardiovascular/metabolic diseases as it tries to meet chief executive Pascal Soriot's objective of boosting sales to $45bn by 2023.

AZ retains the rights to the rest of the Ardea portfolio, including RDEA3170, a follow-up SURI in mid-stage clinical testing. Under the terms of the agreement, Ironwood will have certain rights to potentially access RDEA3170 in gout indications in the US.

Article by
Phil Taylor

27th April 2016

From: Sales

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