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Perrigo gets AstraZeneca Crohn's treatment as it moves past Mylan's failed takeover attempt

November 23, 2015
Life sciences

After finally turning back the long-running takeover attempt by Mylan, Perrigo assured shareholders they could expect “industry-leading future growth prospects.” In its first move toward delivering on that promise, the OTC specialist said today it will buy the U.S. rights to AstraZeneca’s Crohn’s disease drug Entocort.

Perrigo will shell out $380 million to sell Entocort and for the authorized generic that has been marketed by Par Pharmaceuticals in the U.S. Perrigo said it will get a drug that has had a consistent revenue stream since the launch of limited generic competition in 2011. In fact, AstraZeneca says in the first 9 months of this year the drug has racked up $89 million in sales.

For AstraZeneca, the sale is yet another in a series of small deals that have helped it raise some cash as CEO Pascal Soriot works on a turnaround by tightening the British drugmaker’s focus. Gastroenterology no longer falls in the realm of what it sees as high growth areas. In July it sold the rights to the drug outside the U.S. to Tillotts Pharma AG, part of the Zeria Group, for $215 million. The drugmaker suggested today there might be some production cost cuts coming as a result of being free of the drug.

“Our agreement with Perrigo completes the global divestment of Entocort, emphasizing our strategic focus on three main therapy areas and providing further simplification of our supply chain,” Luke Miels, an AstraZeneca executive VP, said in a statement.

In July, AstraZeneca also sold to Sanofi’s Genzyme the rights to Caprelsa, a drug that treats symptomatic medullary thyroid carcinoma. It picked up a potential $300 million in that deal, $165 million upfront and additional milestone payments of up to $135 million if it performs. And there have been deals with Eli Lilly and Daiichi Sankyo as Soriot has moved along this path in the face of patent losses that have handed up financial obstacles in the last several years. The company reported earlier this month that its Q3 sales and earnings were down, but it hiked its earnings forecast for the year.

While Soriot has said these divestitures are in the best interest of the company, some analysts are not so sure. Some were particularly taken aback in April when it sold to Celgene the rights to develop a candidate in blood-cancer immunotherapy. Cancer immunotherapy is one of the really hot growth areas right now and one that AstraZeneca is focused on. Deutsche Bank analyst Richard Parkers said the income generated from the deal was of “questionable sustainability.”

Analysts may not be excited by all of these deals, but Perrigo CEO Joseph Papa is pretty revved up to get Entocort. “We are excited to add this margin-enhancing asset to our already robust Rx portfolio and remain committed to pursuing accretive transactions, such as this one,” he said in a statement.

By Eric Palmer

Source: Fierce Pharma

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