AstraZeneca sells off dermatology drug rights to LEO Pharma
- AstraZeneca said Friday it would sell the rights to two dermatology drugs to LEO Pharma, continuing a strategy of out-licensing non-core drugs to better focus on priority areas such as oncology.
- LEO Pharma will pay AstraZeneca $115 million upfront for global rights to tralokinumab, a developmental drug for atopic dermatitis. Under the terms of the deal, AstraZeneca could also receive another $1 billion if all commercial milestones are hit.
- Additionally, AstraZeneca terminated a license granting Valeant the rights to develop and commercialize the IL-17 antibody brodalumab in Europe, giving those rights to LEO Pharma instead.
Selling off the rights to non-core drugs has been part of AstraZeneca's strategy to boost revenue while it develops new drugs to replace flagging sales from aging mainstays like Crestor, Nexium and Symbicort.
AstraZeneca recently sold commercial rights to its gout drug Zurampic in two separate deals with Ironwood Pharmaceuticals and Germany-based Grunenthal. Those two licensing agreements could net AstraZeneca nearly $500 million if all milestones are reached.
Under the agreement announced today, LEO Pharma will gain rights to develop tralokinumab for treatment of atopic dermatitis and other dermatology indications. In a similar arrangement to past deals, AstraZeneca will continue to manufacture and supply the drug.
AstraZeneca retains the rights to tralokinumab in respiratory disease, however. Phase 3 trials testing the drug as a potential treatment of severe asthma are currently ongoing.
Interestingly, AstraZeneca and the embattled Valeant Pharmaceuticals also agreed to terminate a prior licensing agreement for the development of brodalumab in Europe.
Brodalumab is an IL-17 receptor antibody and is currently under review by the Food and Drug Administration for patients with moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis.
Valeant had paid AstraZeneca $100 million upfront in September 2015 for global rights to the drug, except in Japan and certain Asian countries. Now, AstraZeneca has taken back European rights and sold them to LEO Pharma.
In a separate statement, Valeant said it would receive an undisclosed upfront payment from AstraZeneca as compensation and that the amount of a milestone payment owed to AstraZeneca would be reduced.
"We are pleased with this new licensing arrangement for brodalumab, which enables us to more sharply focus our efforts on delivering this important treatment to patients in the U.S. and other key markets," said Joseph Papa, Valeants new CEO.
An advisory panel to the FDA is currently scheduled to review the drug's application on July 19, and a PDUFA date has been set for November 16.
AstraZeneca said LEO Pharma had agreed to similar licensing terms as those originally negotiated with Valeant for European rights to brodalumab.
Follow Ned Pagliarulo on Twitter