Institutional investors in AstraZeneca have asked for a meeting with the company later this month in order to discuss using some of its cash reserves to boost its product pipeline, according to a report in The Times.
The report hangs on the tail of AstraZeneca’s announcements last week of two more disappointments in its pipeline, namely the discontinuation of a drug for stroke in Phase III testing, and a delay of almost two years before another drug candidate, CytoFab for sepsis, can enter late-stage testing.
The two latest disappointments come after AstraZeneca dropped an intravenous formulation of AZD7009 for the treatment of atrial fibrillation after disappointing Phase III results, as well as the failure Galida (tesaglitazar) for diabetes and withdrawal from the market of blood clot preventer Exanta (ximelegatran) after liver side effects were seen in some patients.
AstraZeneca is sitting on around $4 billion in cash, and while it recently dipped into this to buy Cambridge Antibody Technology for $1.3 billion, some investors seem to feel it should be doing more to shore up an increasingly sparse-looking late-stage research portfolio.
In April, AstraZeneca appointed a senior executive – John Goddard – to a new role in charge of licensing and operations in a bid to step up efforts to bolster its pipeline.
But AstraZeneca has been active in the licensing arena in the last couple of years. The CAT deal brought in four antibody drugs in clinical testing and followed: a £195 million deal to acquire CytoFab for sepsis from Protherics; the purchase of joint rights to cancer drug Abraxane for £112 million; the £121 million purchase of KuDOS Pharmaceuticals in 2005; a $1 billion deal to secure rights to a drug for atherosclerosis from AtheroGenics; and a £173 million deal with Targacept to develop drugs for various central nervous system disorders.