AstraZeneca hands off another Amgen-partnered drug in a $1.5B deal with an acquisitive Allergan

AstraZeneca is cashing in more of its R&D chips today, bagging a $250 million upfront and $1.27 billion in milestones for an IL-23 out-licensing deal with the wheeling and dealing executive crew at Allergan. The pact marks another exit out of a troubled 4-year-old collaboration with Amgen.

Bahija Jallal, MedImmune

Bahija Jallal, MedImmune

Allergan, which is engaged in a deal frenzy right now, gains exclusive global rights to MEDI2070, now in development for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. And it’s committed to a biobuck package that breaks down with $435 million in launch payouts as well as $725 million for sales goals — if it makes its way to the market.

The deal comes as AstraZeneca continues to raise cash with assets it either has lost faith in or would prefer to simply cash out of as it focuses on CV/metabolic, respiratory and oncology. Still in turnaround mode, the pharma giant has relied on its business development team to find more buyers than sellers recently, a move that also included the sale of the problem-plagued psoriasis drug brodalumab to Valeant as well as antibiotics.

MEDI2070 and brodalumab were both included in a deal Amgen struck with AstraZeneca in 2012, partnering on a package of anti-inflammatory molecules that had some big rivals percolating in the pipelines of other major players. Amgen kept responsibility for brodalumab at the time, before jettisoning the drug. Amgen concluded that brodalumab had no real promise after investigators pinned cases of suicide and suicidal ideation to the therapy. AstraZeneca’s MedImmune was responsible for developing MEDI2070, but that will soon be over as well.

Brent Saunders’ Allergan, meanwhile, is all about beefing up its pipeline these days, and the autoimmune market has been a big focus. Just days ago it acquired Vitae Pharmaceuticals for $639 million, grabbing a psoriasis drug for its dermatology portfolio.

The plan now is for AstraZeneca to complete a Phase IIa study and then transition the drug over to Allergan for the Phase IIb trial.

MedImmune EVP Bahija Jallal said:

“This agreement demonstrates our sharp focus on three main therapy areas while creating value from the increased R&D productivity and innovative science in our pipeline through collaborations. Allergan has significant experience in gastrointestinal and inflammatory diseases and is the right partner to progress the development and commercialization of MEDI2070.”

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