Bargain sale continues: AstraZeneca offloads three respiratory drugs to Covis in $350M deal

In its second divestiture move within a week, AstraZeneca is bringing in $350 million by selling three assets to Covis Pharma.

Zug, Switzerland-based Covis first acquired US rights to Alvesco, Omnaris and Zetonna in 2017 to beef up a specialty franchise in the respiratory and allergy areas. It can now commercialize the drugs outside of the US as well as keep US royalties to itself.

Alvesco is an inhaled maintenance therapy for asthma, while Omnaris and Zetonna are nasal sprays for seasonal and perennial rhinitis. In 2017, the trio recorded a combined product sales of $106 million, according to AstraZeneca.

Mark Mallon

Alvesco and Omnaris — which both share the same active ingredient, a synthetic corticosteroid known as ciclesonide, as Zetonna — haven’t been in AstraZeneca’s portfolio for too long. The UK pharma giant had bagged these two assets late 2015 as side dishes to COPD treatment roflumilast, the main course of a $575 million deal with a streamlining Takeda.

The agreement, which is also tagged with $26 million in potential sales-related payments from 2019 to 2022, comes days after AstraZeneca announced it’s selling heartburn drug Nexium and arthritis treatment Vimovo to Grünenthal for a combined upfront of $815 million.

“One of our strategic objectives is to divest parts of our portfolio, allowing us to allocate resources to develop innovative new medicines to address unmet patient needs,” Mark Mallon, EVP, global product and portfolio strategy, said of the Covis deal.

Faced with shrinking revenues and loss of patent protection for some of its blockbuster drugs, AstraZeneca has been looking intently at its pipeline for new sales potential, with big bets on new cancer drugs like Lynparza, Tagrisso and Imfinzi.

Though respiratory is a also focus area under CEO Pascal Soriot, alongside oncology, cardiovascular, renal and metabolism, it hasn’t quite delivered the kind of upbeat news that the immuno-oncology unit has.

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