AstraZeneca To Divest US Rights to Respiratory Drug Synagis for $1.5 Billion
AstraZeneca has agreed to sell its US rights to Synagis (palivizumab), a drug for preventing lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), for $1.5 billion to Swedish Orphan Biovitrum (Sobi), a Stockholm, Sweden-headquartered specialty healthcare company.
Sobi will commercialize Synagis in the US, and approximately 130 AstraZeneca employees will transfer to Sobi as part of the transaction. Sobi will also have the right to participate in AstraZeneca’s share of US profits and losses related to AstraZeneca’s potential new medicine (MEDI8897) for preventing LRTI. AstraZeneca will continue to develop the new drug in collaboration with Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi. AstraZeneca and Sanofi Pasteur agreed to develop and commercialize the drug in March 2017. Under the agreement, AstraZeneca is responsible for all development activity through initial approvals and manufacturing while Sanofi Pasteur leads commercialization activities. The two companies share all costs and profits equally.
“We continue to streamline our portfolio, allowing AstraZeneca to allocate resources more effectively, while Sobi’s focus on Synagis will enable infants in the US to continue benefiting from this important treatment,” said Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer in a November 13, 2018 company statement. “Meanwhile, the successful development and commercialization of MEDI8897 remains important for AstraZeneca.”
Under the agreement, AstraZeneca will receive an upfront consideration of $1.5 billion, consisting of $1 billion in cash and $500 million in ordinary shares of Sobi upon completion. This would equate to an ownership interest of 8%, based on the current Sobi share price. AstraZeneca has undertaken not to sell the shares received as consideration for a period of 12 months following the closing date of the transaction. AstraZeneca says the cash proceeds from the transaction will be used for general corporate purposes.
AstraZeneca will also receive up to $470 million in sales-related payments for Synagis, a $175-million milestone following the submission of the biologics license application for MEDI8897; potential net payments of approximately $110 million on achievement of other MEDI8897 profit and development-related milestones; and a total of $60 million in non-contingent payments for MEDI8897 during 2019-2021. The agreement is subject to customary closing conditions and is currently expected to complete very early 2019, according to information from AstraZeneca.