Sanofi steps up with a $645M deal to partner with AstraZeneca on a late-stage RSV antibody

David Loew, Sanofi

Pointing directly at a pivotal Phase III program, AstraZeneca has decided to partner with Sanofi on an experimental antibody for RSV.

The French pharma giant is paying €120 million upfront and up to €495 million more in development and sales milestones to buy into the program. The two Big Pharmas will now split R&D costs for MEDI8897, with AstraZeneca in charge of manufacturing and Sanofi Pasteur taking control of the commercialization work — provided it goes through to an approval.

AstraZeneca’s biotech arm, MedImmune, has been working on this drug, believing it has a new therapy in hand that could provide protection from the respiratory virus for newborns and infants with a single dose per season. The therapy is currently in a Phase IIb study with a late-stage effort in the works.

AstraZeneca has been doing deals for a number of assets it no longer wants to control. And Sanofi has been on the hunt to reform its internal pipeline of projects. Sanofi, though, has been frustrated by an inability to close a major acquisition, with Pfizer outgunning its negotiators on Medivation and J&J taking charge of Actelion.

At one point, Sanofi was collaborating with its longtime partner Regeneron on REGN2222, an antibody now in a Phase III study for RSV, but then opted to bow out.

“RSV is considered to be the most important missing indication in the vaccination schedule of newborns,” said David Loew, the head of Sanofi Pasteur, in a prepared statement. “As a global leader in the pediatric vaccine industry, this deal with MedImmune therefore makes perfect sense for Sanofi Pasteur. RSV causes major, seasonal worldwide outbreaks and the severity is predominant among young infants. We look forward to working with MedImmune to offer a solution to this common lower-respiratory disease when infants are most vulnerable.”

Image: Electron micrograph depicts the Respiratory Syncytial Virus pathogen (1981)

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