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AZ slims down again with sale of antibiotics to Pfizer

Deal does not include biologic anti-infective products from Medimmune unit

AstraZeneca global R&D corporate headquarters 

AstraZeneca has offloaded yet another business, this time selling its late-stage antibiotic assets to Pfizer in a deal worth up to $1.58bn.

The deal includes the approved antibiotics Merrem (meropenem), Zinforo (ceftaroline fosamil) and just-licensed Zavicefta (ceftazidime/avibactam), as well as two injectable antibiotic candidates - Allergan-partnered ATM-AVI (aztreonam/avibactam) and CXL (ceftaroline/avibactam).

ATM-AVI is in trials for life-threatening Gram-negative bacterial infections caused by multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains, while CXL has activity against MDR Gram-positive and Gram-negative pathogens.

The agreement does not include biologic anti-infective products coming from AZ's Medimmune unit - notably Synagis (palivizumab) for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections and flu vaccine FluMist - or indeed a stake in anti-infectives firm Entasis Therapeutics which was spun-out by AZ last year.

Pfizer has already agreed a $14bn takeover of cancer specialist Medivation this week, but has ample cash in reserve despite also snapping up Hospira for $17bn last year. In May the big pharma company was estimated to be sitting on around $40bn - giving it plenty of scope to for pipeline-bolstering deals.

The terms of the latest AZ deal include an upfront payment of $500m, another unconditional payment of $175m in January 2019 and a total of $850m in regulatory and commercial milestones, as well as royalties on Zavicefta and ATM-AVI sales in some markets. 

The sale is the latest in a series of divestments by AZ as it narrows its focus to oncology, inflammation and autoimmunity and cardiovascular/metabolic diseases, and tries to meet chief executive Pascal Soriot's pledge to boost sales to $45bn by 2023.

The company has been steadily shedding older products as well as newer ones deemed to be surplus to requirements, freeing up cash for investment in its R&D pipeline and propping up cash flow in the face of a looming patent expiry for Crestor (rosuvastatin) in the US. 

Meanwhile, recent pipeline-boosting acquisitions have included a $2.7bn purchase of ZS Pharma, a majority stake in Acerta and a portfolio of respiratory drugs from Takeda.

Article by
Phil Taylor

24th August 2016

From: Sales

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