AstraZeneca and partner Abraxis BioScience are looking at the possibility of ending their marketing pact for the latter’s taxane therapy Abraxane for breast cancer.

The firms say they have entered into the agreement whereby Abraxis would re-acquire exclusive rights to market Abraxane, an albumin-bound formulation of paclitaxel, in the USA. If approved by the Abraxis board in January, this will result in the payment of a fee of $268 million to AstraZeneca on March 31 next year.

However, if the Abraxis board does not approve the termination then the co-promotion agreement will continue with an amended commission to the Anglo-Swedish drugmaker of 50%, as opposed to 20% at present.

AstraZeneca paid $200 million to acquire US rights to Abraxane in April 2006 and said at the time that it could be a “substantial product” in breast cancer. However the drug would not appear to have lived up to its potential and third-quarter sales of Abraxane reached $92 million, up 6.6%.

Jupiter data boosts Crestor market share
Selling far better is Crestor (rosuvastatin), AstraZeneca ‘s blockbuster cholesterol drug, and its share of the US statin market in terms of new prescriptions rose to 10.7% in the week ended November 14. This is up from 10.1% a week earlier, according to figures from IMS Health and rise is due to data from the recent Jupiter study which showed a dramatic risk reduction of cardiovascular death in people with low to normal cholesterol levels.

In an investment note, Morgan Stanley said that Crestor appeared to be taking market share from both Merck & Co and Schering-Plough’s Vytorin (ezetimibe plus simvastatin) and Pfizer’s Lipitor (atorvastatin). The broker added that should Crestor achieve a 12% total prescription market share in 2009, this would add around 4% to its earnings per share forecasts for next year.

The total prescription share of Crestor rose to 9.8% from 9.5% in the week ended November 14.