AstraZeneca sells US rights to RSV drug for $1.5bn

By Maggie Lynch

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/jarun011)
(Image: Getty/jarun011)

Related tags Divest Biologics Research infant RSV Partnership

AstraZeneca announced it will sell US rights to Synagis to Sobi, to focus on its collaborative RSV therapy.

The US marketing rights to Synagis (palivizumab), used for the prevention of lower respiratory tract infection (LTRI) caused by respiratory syncytial virus​ (RSV), will be sold to Sobi after a $1.5bn (€1.3bn) agreement between the companies.

A spokesperson for AstraZeneca (AZ) told us, Synagis has a well-established presence and revenue stream within the RSV therapy area, which makes it ideal for partnering.”

The $1.5bn deal consists of $1bn paid to AZ in cash and $500m in ordinary shares of Sobi upon completion of the transaction. The payment of the shares equates an ownership interest of roughly 8%. AZ will also receive up to $407m in additional sales-related payments for Synagis.

Sobi CEO, Guido Oelkers said in a press release, “It [Synagis] remains the only product preventing RSV infection in this vulnerable patient group with a great medical need.”

Synagis is a RSV F protein inhibitor monoclonal antibody (mAb) that acts as prophylaxis against RSV. It was developed by MedImmune, AZ’s biologics research and development arm.

AZ has stated that it will not sell shares received as part of the deal for a period of 12 months, following the closing date of the transaction.

The agreement will see 130 AZ employees transferred to Sobi. Additionally, Sobi will have the right to participate in AZ’s share of US profits and losses related to the potential new medicine MEDI18897.

This deal does not impact its ongoing partnership with AbbVie, which distributes Synagis outside the US.

‘Next-generation RSV therapy’

MEDI18897 is a collaborative “next-generation RSV therapy”developed by MedImmune and Sanofi Pasteur​, the vaccines division of Sanofi. It is a single dose RSV F mAb for the prevention of LRTI caused by RSV being developed for the passive immunization of a broad infant population. The mAb has received fast track designation from the US Food and Drug Administration.

Following the submission of a biologics license application for MEDI8897, Sobi will pay a $175m milestone payment and potential net payments of roughly $100m on achievement and development of MEDI8897. It will also pay a total of $60m in non-contingent payments for MEDI8897 during the period of 2019 to 2021.

Divesting to invest

AZ recently sold two of its drugs​ to Grünethal for $700m and then divested further assets by selling three drugs to Covis for $350m.

At the time Mark Mallon, executive VP of global product and portfolio strategy for AZ, explained that one of the company’s strategic objectives currently is divesting parts of its portfolio in order to allocate resources to develop new medicines.

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