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AZ licenses inflammatory bowel disease drug to Allergan for $1.52bn

Will receive $250m upfront with a further $1.27bn if drug reaches market in two indications
AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca's streamlining exercise continues this week with the licensing of mid-stage drug MEDI2070 for Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis to Allergan.

The drug - developed by AZ's Medimmune subsidiary in partnership with with Amgen - lies outside the company's three areas of therapeutic focus - respiratory, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and cancer. MEDI2070 is an interleukin-23 (IL-23) targeting antibody currently in a phase IIb trial in Crohn's and a phase II trial in ulcerative colitis.

Allergan is paying $250m upfront for global rights to MEDI2070, with another $1.27bn on offer if the drug reaches the market in both its indications and achieves certain undisclosed sales targets. Amgen will pocket one third of the upfront fee ($167m) and milestones under the terms of the deal.

AZ has been steadily selling off mature products in recent months, but this is the largest pipeline asset to be divested as part of its slimming drive after the $445m sale of psoriasis drug brodalumab to Valeant.

In a phase II trial reported last year, MDI2070 was shown to be more effective than placebo in patients with active Crohn's disease who failed or were intolerant to anti-tumour necrosis factor (TNF) therapy.

AZ has previously said that the rationale for MEDI2070's development was that it could offer at least equivalent efficacy to drugs such as Janssen's Stelara (ustekinumab), which target both IL-23 and IL-12, but a better risk-benefit profile.

Other selective IL-23 blockers coming through the pipeline include Janssen's guselkumab, tildrakizumab from Sun Pharma (formerly MSD) and Boehringer Ingelheim/ AbbVie's BI 655066. These other candidates are being developed initially for psoriasis but are also in trials for Crohn's and ulcerative colitis, amongst other inflammatory diseases.

Meanwhile, for Allergan the deal continues an acquisitive streak, marked by several bolt-on deals to boost its pipeline. In the last few weeks alone it has agreed a $1.7bn deal to acquire liver disease specialists Tobira and Akarna, bought skincare firm Vitae Pharma for $639m and paid $60m for gene therapy start-up RetroSense.

Article by
Phil Taylor

3rd October 2016

From: Sales

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