Deals, Restructuring

AstraZeneca jettisons another drug, this time grabbing $30M for out-licensing deal

Add one more drug to AstraZeneca’s growing pile of pipeline drugs it’s jettisoning. This time, the deal focuses on an early-stage respiratory drug dubbed AZD7986.

Bridgewater, NJ-based Insmed $INSM grabbed the oral DPP1 drug for $30 million upfront and another $120 million in a grab-bag of development and sales milestones. Insmed recently completed a $55 million debt financing deal and plans to add another $30 million to pay for the acquisition from AstraZeneca.

Insmed will now rename the drug INS1007 and repurpose it for the rare disease field, tackling an initial indication of non-CF bronchiectasis, a neutrophil-driven pulmonary disorder characterized by chronic inflammation and infection.

The deal comes just two days after the pharma giant struck an agreement to hand over an IL-23 drug to Allergan for $250 million upfront and $1.27 billion on the back end. That was the second of 5 drugs it had been collaborating on with Amgen, a package which included brodalumab, another cast off.

AstraZeneca has been quickly striking terms for a whole range of assets in the clinic, raising cash and narrowing its focus. Most of these drugs have a troubled development history. But respiratory diseases had been one of three key pipeline focuses at the pharma giant, which evidently no longer implies any special status inside AstraZeneca.

AstraZeneca has had a tough year, seeing several clinical setbacks, like Brilinta’s recent failure in another huge Phase III trial. That forced execs to finally start walking back a peak sales promise of $3.5 billion as the pharma giant looks more and more like it’s retreating steadily from the bright future CEO Pascal Soriot promised investors two years ago.

Those promises were made to help fend off Pfizer’s proposed takeover, which some investors may be regretting more than ever.


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