- Announcing its fourth sell-off this week, AstraZeneca reported Friday that it has entered into an agreement with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Cilag for the rest-of-world rights to an over-the-counter nasal spray.
- The British pharma is selling the ex-U.S. rights to Rhinocort Aqua (budesonide) as part of its major overhaul to monetize non-core assets.
- The J&J subsidiary will pay $330 million upon the closing of the deal. AstraZeneca will not maintain any significant interest in the drug.
AstraZeneca, like many in the big pharma world, is taking a close look at its balance sheet and trimming the fat where it can. The company has made four deals in the last week that better monetize assets that otherwise would not have fit into the company's larger strategy.
On Monday, the company announced it was selling its IL-23 monoclonal antibody to Allergan for $250 million upfront and $1.27 billion in potential milestones. That deal was followed the next day with the sale of U.S. rights to branded and authorized generic forms of the beta-blocker Toprol-XL (metoprolol succinate) to Aralez Pharmaceuticals for $175 million upfront and $48 million in milestones. That was followed the next day by a deal with Insmed for the rights to a Phase 1 pulmonary disease drug for $30 million upfront and $120 million in milestones.
CEO Pascal Soriot set lofty goals for the company a couple of years ago when the British pharma was fending off takeover advances from Pfizer – projecting the company could bring in $45 billion in annual revenues by 2023.
Those goals were always a tough sell, but have increasingly seemed out of reach. AstraZeneca recently had to cut the guidance on one of its key drugs – the blood thinner Britlinta (ticagrelor) – after it failed to outperform an older statin in clinical trials. The company admitted it won't hit the $3.5 billion revenue goal it had initially projected for Britlinta.