Circassia forges a $300M COPD sales/development pact for US rights on two AstraZeneca drugs

Barred at the FDA this morning on one big new drug, AstraZeneca has dickered away US rights to two of its respiratory meds for COPD, including an experimental effort aimed at a regulatory filing next year.

The UK’s Circassia — dealt a severe setback last summer — is taking the lead on promoting Tudorza in the US, with an option on full commercial rights as the deal matures. And AstraZeneca will also hand over Duaklir once it’s wrapped development work.

In exchange, Circassia is handing over $50 million in stock now, another $100 million for Duaklir — either on approval or by the summer of 2019 — and then $80 million if the biotech picks up the commercial option on Tudorza.

AstraZeneca gets tiered royalties and Circassia will fund development work to the tune of $62.5 million.

Add it all up and it comes close to a $300 million deal. And now Circassia will start beefing up its US sales force.

Circassia CEO Steve Harris

“As part of the long-term strategic collaboration with AstraZeneca, we will immediately double our US sales force to promote Tudorza as our priority, as well as our existing Niox products, transforming Circassia into a world-class respiratory business,” said Circassia CEO Steve Harris in a statement.

The deal marks the latest in a long string of outward bound licensing and product pacts for AstraZeneca, which has been bringing in some considerable revenue to help it through a painful effort to mount a turnaround.

In this instance, the pharma giant also backing away from a crowded market. Tudorza was acquired in 2015 when AstraZeneca paid Actavis — now Allergan — $600 million for its respiratory portfolio. Duaklir was approved in Europe in 2014, but immediately faced major league competition for its LABA/LAMA combo from heavyweights like GlaxoSmithKline. AstraZeneca picked up its rights in a licensing deal with Almirall.

Circassia investors, though, liked what they were seeing, bidding up shares by about 30% this morning. Circassia was hammered last summer when its lead cat allergy program went down to defeat in a Phase III study. This deal with AstraZeneca gives them some badly needed bragging rights to get into business.

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