AstraZeneca PLC Passes Off Another Amgen-Partnered Drug Candidate in $1.5 Billion Deal With Allergan

AstraZeneca PLC Passes Off Another Amgen-Partnered Drug Candidate in $1.5 Billion Deal with Allergan October 3, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

UK-based AstraZeneca announced today that its biologics research-and-development unit, MedImmune , inked a licensing deal with Dublin-based Allergan for MEDI2070.

MEDI2070 is an IL-23 monoclonal antibody that is presently in a Phase IIb trial for moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease. It is also expected to start a Phase II trial for ulcerative colitis. AstraZeneca has been developing MEDI2070 since March 2012, when it signed a collaboration agreement with Amgen , based in Thousand Oaks, California.

As a result, AstraZeneca will pay Amgen a third of all payments and royalties it receives from Allergan. Amgen is also eligible for a single-digit inventor royalty.

As part of the deal, Allergan is paying AstraZeneca an upfront fee of $250 million. Various milestone payments could hit up to $1.27 billion, and any approved therapeutics will include tiered royalties.

“This agreement demonstrates our sharp focus on three main therapy areas while creating value from the increased R&D productivity and innovative science in our pipeline through collaborations,” Bahija Jallal, MedImmune’s executive vice president, said in a statement. “Allergan has significant experience in gastrointestinal and inflammatory diseases and is the right partner to progress the development and commercialization of MEDI2070.”

AstraZeneca has three primary therapeutic areas, Respiratory, Cardiovascular & Metabolic Diseases, and Oncology.

MedImmune will continue an ongoing Phase IIa trial of the drug in Crohn’s disease to completion, then transition the Phase IIb trial to Allergan.

“MEDI2070 represents an exciting addition to our Open Science pipeline, adding an important new program currently being studied in Crohn’s disease, with potential across a number of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders,” said David Nicholson, Allergan’s chief research & development officer, in a statement. “The MEDI2070 program also reinforces Allergan’s commitment to bringing forward important innovations in the treatment of inflammation and autoimmune disorders where significant unmet need exists across many of our therapeutic areas.”

The drug is consistent with Allergan’s strong presence in gastroenterology. It already is marketing drugs for Irritable Bowel Syndrome-C (IBS-C), Chronic Idiopathic Constipation (CIC), Irritable Bowel Syndrome-D (IBS-D) and Ulcerative Colitis.

The company recently acquired Vitae Pharmaceuticals , which simultaneously picked up VTP-43742, an orally active retinoic acid receptor-related orphan receptor gamma inhibitor to treat psoriasis and other autoimmune disorders. Allergan paid $639 million for the Pennsylvania-based company.

“Vitae has pioneered the discovery and development of highly differentiated first-in-class compounds in atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and autoimmune diseases, areas of medicine where innovation is needed for patients,” Brent Saunders, Allergan’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Allergan has definitely been in a buying mood since its merger deal with Pfizer fell apart. In early September, it acquired gene therapy company Retrosense Therapeutics with $60 million up front. In August, Allergan bought the Bay Area’s ForSight Vision5, and in April, it acquired Boston-based Topokine Therapeutics. Only a day after the Pfizer deal fell apart, Allergan acquired global rights to Heptares Therapeutics’ portfolio of novel subtype-selective muscarinic receptor agonists to treat a variety of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.

The deal with AstraZeneca is expected to close before the end of the year.

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