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AZ offloads more products in slimming drive

Will invest Moventig, Plendil and Imdur proceeds in its R&D pipeline
AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca has continued to divest its older product lines to provide cash for investment in its R&D pipeline, signing two new deals this week.

Most recently, the pharma group sold European rights to its opioid-induced constipation treatment Moventig (naloxegol) to Scottish firm ProStrakan, a subsidiary of Japan's Kyowa Hakko Kirin, for an upfront fee of $70m plus royalties and milestones.

Moventig was approved in Europe in 2014 and brought in revenues of just $29m for AZ last year. It is currently available in the UK, Ireland, Germany, the Nordics, Austria and Switzerland, according to the company, which said the deal also includes non-EU countries Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

The UK's second-largest drugmaker has previously sold Japanese rights to the drug to Daiichi Sankyo and entered into a co-marketing agreement for the drug in the US, where it is sold as Movantik.

Meanwhile, earlier this week AZ also transferred Chinese rights to two elderly cardiovascular drugs - Plendil (felodipine) and Imdur (isosorbide mononitrate) - to China Medical System Holdings in a $500m deal. The two products brought in sales of a little under $250m last year.

The sale of older drugs is designed to keep the company flush as it recovers from the loss of patent protection for several big-selling drugs in the last couple of years, including cholesterol drug Crestor (rosuvastatin) and Nexium (esomeprazole) for gastrointestinal indications.

AZ is also focusing in on core therapeutic categories - namely 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.

Other recent examples include the divestment of inflammatory bowel disease therapy Entocort (budesonide) outside the US to Tillotts Pharma in a $215m deal, and the sale of psoriasis candidate brodalumab to Valeant.

AZ's head of flobal product and portfolio strategy, Luke Miels, said the deals are "in line with our strategy to focus our resources within our three main therapy areas while unlocking value from the important medicines in our portfolio".

Some analysts have questioned the strategy, however, saying the divestments could be viewed as selling off the 'family silver'.

Article by
Phil Taylor

4th March 2016

From: Sales

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