AstraZeneca taps Circassia to promote 2 US COPD drugs

Dive Brief:

  • Oxford-based Circassia surged on the London Stock Exchange on March 17, adding more than 5% to its stock price by the close of trading, after announcing it has struck a deal with AstraZeneca.
  • The British pharma licensed the U.S. commercialization rights to two of its respiratory products — Tudorza (aclidinium bromide) and Duaklir (aclidinium bromide/ formoterol fumarate), both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) treatments — to Circassia, and will take an equity stake in the company.
  • Circassia will act as lead on the promotion of Tudorza, which was approved in 2012, with the option to gain full commercialization rights in the future. Duaklir, meanwhile, is expected to be approved in 2018. 

Dive Insight:

AstraZeneca has been offloading assets left and right over the last six months in an effort to meet the ambitious revenue target of $45 billion that CEO Pascal Soriot set for the company a couple of years ago. The drugmaker has been fine-tuning its focus and trying to monetize any assets that could be outside its main purview.

While AstraZeneca is buying $50 million in shares of the smaller company, Circassia will pay AstraZeneca $100 million upon the approval of Duaklir and another $80 million for the full rights of Tudorza should it exercise that option. The two companies will share U.S. profits and Circassia will provide $62 million toward the further development of the drugs.

"It also further sharpens our focus on Symbicort, Bevespi Aerosphere, benralizumab and other respiratory development programs. Circassia will be an important strategic partner for AstraZeneca in the US and we look forward to working closely together," said Mark Mallon, head of global product and portfolio strategy at AstraZeneca, of the other products in the company’s respiratory pipeline.

For Circassia, the deal reaffirms its commitment to its respiratory franchise. The smaller company’s stock plummeted last year when it was forced to end development on parts of its allergy franchise after a failed late-stage trial. The company blamed a high placebo effect, but was unable to recover from the setback. Since then, the company has been shifting gears and putting resources behind its respiratory franchise.

With the AstraZeneca deal, Circassia gets two drugs to add to its salesforce’s bag and a shot of equity. The company said it will double its U.S. salesforce to help bolster the effort. 

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Filed Under: Mergers and Acquisitions / Deals