AstraZeneca PLC Offloads Remaining Anesthetics Portfolio in $766 Million Deal

Published: Sep 14, 2017

AstraZeneca PLC Offloads Remaining Anesthetics Portfolio in $766 Million Deal September 14, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

LONDON – AstraZeneca struck a deal with South Africa-based Aspen Global Incorporated to divest the remaining rights to a portfolio of anesthetics for up to $766 million.

Aspen gained the U.S. rights to the drug portfolio in the latest deal. The deal comes about 14 months after Aspen acquired the non-U.S. rights to the same portfolio of drugs. That deal was also lucrative for AstraZeneca. Aspen paid up to $770 million for the non-U.S. rights, when milestones are factored in. Aspen now has global rights to the anesthetic portfolio that includes Diprivan, EMLA, Xylocaine/Xylocard/Xyloproct, Marcaine, Naropin, Carbocaine and Citanest, AstraZeneca said.

Under terms of the new deal, Aspen will acquire the remaining rights to the intellectual property and manufacturing know-how related to the anesthetic medicines for an upfront consideration of $555 million. Aspen will pay an additional $211 million in performance-related milestones through Nov. 30 2019. AstraZeneca will continue to manufacture and supply the medicines to AGI during a transition period of up to five years.

Aspen’s acquisition has been profitable for the company, Stephen Saad, Aspen’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter of this year. It is not expected to impact AstraZeneca’s financial guidance.

Mark Mallon, head of AstraZeneca’s portfolio strategy, said Aspen and his company have both benefitted from the commercial agreement first struck in 2016.

“As our relationship has evolved, AGI has shown that it is in a strong position to maximize the value and reach of the anesthetic medicines through its extensive commercial network. Disposing the remaining rights to the medicines allows both companies to benefit from greater efficiencies as AstraZeneca continues to focus our resources on our three main therapy areas,” Mallon said in a statement.

AstraZeneca has positioned itself to have a three-pillar focus – oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic disease treatments, as well as respiratory diseases, which was boosted by the $575 million acquisition of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company ’s core respiratory business.

In August, the company delved deeper into developing respiratory treatments through a $30 million partnership with Germany-based Ethris GmbH, a mRNA specialist. The deal will see MedImmune , the biologics research division of AstraZeneca, collaborate on mRNA therapeutics targeting pulmonary problems, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The two teams will develop the pulmonary treatments using Ethris’ proprietary SNIM RNA technology.

In July, AstraZeneca’s oncology arm received a substantial boost after it inked a deal with Merck to use AstraZeneca’s PARP inhibitor Lynparza in combination with PD-1 inhibitors developed by both companies. Lynparza, which has been approved in the United States for the treatment of one type of ovarian cancer, will be combined with AstraZeneca’s Imfrinzi and Merck’s Keytruda. In March, AstraZeneca announced that Lynparza delayed the recurrence of ovarian cancer by more than two years compared to placebo in a Phase III study.

AstraZeneca is looking for new revenue streams as it faces challenges from generic drugs. Earlier this year, the company said revenue will likely decline in 2017 due to those generic challenges, particularly as generic drugs eat into the marketshare of its blockbuster anti-cholesterol drug Crestor. Earlier this year, AstraZeneca laid out how many of its drugs are losing revenue due to competition. For example, AstraZeneca said sales of schizophrenia drug Seroquel XR were down 83 percent in the United States and 37 percent in Europe. COPD drug Symbicort saw a decline of 21 percent in the United States, which AstraZeneca said was in line with predictions for 2017.

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