Can AZ finally solidify a deal for its anti-infectives unit?
- AstraZeneca (AZ) has been shopping a partnership deal for its anti-infectives unit for more than a year, but there don't seem to be any takers, FierceBiotech reports. AZ has been attempting to spin off the anti-infectives business while still remaining a leading shareholder in the unit.
- Many potential partners have reportedly walked away from the deal because its economics don't seem workable. In addition to spinning out the entire pipeline, AZ also wants to spin out a 20-person team.
- This is all taking place in the context of a complete R&D makeover under the guidance of CEO Pascal Soriot. Anti-infectives has already taken a beating, as the staff has steadily shrunk from 175 to less than 100 people. In addition, AZ has abandoned most of its work with tropical diseases, specifically malaria and tuberculosis, with the exception of one TB drug—AZD5847.
Overall, anti-infectives have fallen out of favor, though there continues to be interest in this therapeutic area among some companies.
For AZ, the issue is not a complete lack of interest in the pipeline or the division's assets, but rather the way the deal is structured. Companies that have signaled a general interest in this therapeutic area include Merck, which recently purchased the antibiotics maker Cubist for $8.4 billion.
The U.S. government been attempting to encourage pharma companies to pursue R&D in this area. While the clock is ticking, AZ is most likely considering ways to restructure the deal to make it more attractive.