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AZ sells Zurampic rights to Gruenenthal for $230m

Continues to sell off unwanted assets in order to focus resources and meet $45bn sales target
AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca (AZ) has continued to refine its portfolio with the sale of European and Latin American rights to gout drug Zurampic.

The UK-based big pharma group has given Gruenenthal rights to recently-approved Zurampic (lesinurad) in the EU - along with Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein - as well as all countries in Latin America.

The deal is valued at $230m plus milestones and royalties, and also includes rights to a follow-up product, which combines lesinurad and established gout treatment allopurinol.

AZ previously sold US rights to Zurampic and the follow-up to Ironwood Pharmaceuticals for $265m plus royalties.

The drug is approved for use alongside xanthine oxidase (XO) inhibitors such as generic allopurinol or Takeda's Uloric (febuxostat) in gout, and Ironwood has said it intends to launch it in the US in the second half. Meantime, the fixed-dose combination will be submitted for regulatory review in the second half of 2016, according to AZ.

AZ has been steadily selling off assets it does not consider to be core to its operations, as it invests in new pipeline projects that it needs to boost sales in light of the loss of patent protection for blockbuster brands such as cholesterol drug Crestor (rosuvastatin) and Nexium (esomeprazole) for gastrointestinal diseases.

In recent months the company has sold late-stage psoriasis candidate brodalumab to Valeant, transferred European rights to its opioid-induced constipation treatment Moventig (naloxegol) to ProStrakan and divested ex-US rights to inflammatory bowel disease therapy Entocort (budesonide) to Tillotts Pharma, among other deals.

The decision to sell Zurampic rights has raised some eyebrows among investors, given that AZ paid $1.3bn for the drug's original developer Ardea Biosciences in 2012 and has invested in late-stage testing.

Some analysts had predicted that the drug could bring in $500m to $1bn in peak sales, although safety concerns and a black-box warning on its US label have subsequently pegged back expectations.

AZ says it 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.

Article by
Phil Taylor

3rd June 2016

From: Sales

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