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AstraZeneca sells COPD drugs for $270M

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AstraZeneca headquarters in Wilmington | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON – Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca sold the rights to two of its drugs used in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) for $270 million, the company announced Nov. 1.

It will transfer the rights to both Tudorza, also known as Eklira overseas, and Duaklir to Covis Pharma Group, a Swiss pharmaceutical firm that previously acquired the rights to the respiratory medicines Alvesco, Omnaris and Zetonna from AstraZeneca in 2018. AstraZeneca licensed the global rights to both products involved in the latest deal from Almirall S.A. in 2014.

Aside from an initial $270 million payment, Covis Pharma will also cover certain ongoing development costs related to the medicines. The two drugs generated annual revenue of about $143 million, according to AstraZeneca. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2021, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory clearances.

The Covis Pharma deal was just one of a trio of moves in AstraZeneca’s portfolio over the last week.

On Oct. 28, MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca, provided notice to Blue Bell, Pa.-based Inovio Pharmaceuticals that it was terminating a 6-year-old development program agreement on an HPV cancer drug.

Under the agreement, MedImmune acquired exclusive rights to an immunotherapy drug, with the ability to sublicense those license rights, while Inovio stood to gain future milestone payments or royalties. It received payments totaling more than $2.1 million over the last three years.

MedImmune is currently conducting a Phase 2 clinical trial of the drug, MEDI0457, in patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. It completed the final data cut off for the trial and plans to complete the clinical study report by the end of 2022.

Then on Oct. 2, AstraZeneca announced an assay development agreement with Swedish cancer test development firm SAGA Diagnostics AB.

Over the course of the agreement, SAGA Diagnostics will develop unique digital polymerase chain reaction assays for analyses of tissue samples and liquid biopsies of cancer patients.

“We have chosen to partner with SAGA because of the ultrasensitive performance of the SAGAsafe technology and possibility to custom tailor highly complex dPCR assays to meet our desired analytical standards. We are excited about exploring this new area together with SAGA,” said James Hadfield, director epigenomics, oncology translational medicine, and oncology R&D at AstraZeneca, in a statement.

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