AstraZeneca has made the decision to license the commercial rights to Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate immediate release) and Seroquel XR (quetiapine fumarate extended release) in Europe and Russia to Cheplapharm Arzneimittel GmbH (Cheplapharm).

The decision comes as both drugs, used primarily to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, have lost their compound patent protection in Europe and Russia.

The English-Swedish pharma giant has confirmed it will continue to manufacture and supply the antipsychotics to Cheplapharm during a transition period, and that Cheplapharm will make an upfront payment of $178m, with future sales-contingent payments of up to $61m.

In 2018, Seroquel generated annual product sales of $47m in the markets covered by this agreement, while Seroquel XR generated $61m.

“Seroquel is an important established medicine” explained Ruud Dobber, executive vice president, Biopharmaceuticals, “and this agreement with Cheplapharm will help ensure continued patient access. It forms part of our strategy of reducing the portfolio of mature medicines to enable reinvestment in our main therapy areas.”

AZ has previously disposed of the rights to Seroquel and Seroquel XR in the UK, Japan and other major international markets.