AstraZeneca is continuing to shed products outside the scope of its three core therapy areas with the sale of certain rights to Nexium and Vimovo to Grünenthal.

The drug giant is divesting European rights to Nexium and global rights (excluding the US and Japan) to Vimovo to the firm, as they don’t fall under its Oncology, Cardiovascular, Renal & Metabolism and Respiratory areas.

Nexium is a proton pump inhibitor designed to reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach in patients with gastrointestinal reflux conditions and ulcers. It has a number of indications, including the prevention and treatment of gastric ulcers induced by pain-relieving non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Vimovo is a modified-release fixed-dose combination tablet of naproxen, a pain-relieving NSAID and esomeprazole, the active ingredient in Nexium, for the treatment of various inflammatory diseases, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis in patients at risk of developing NSAID-associated gastric ulcers and/or duodenal ulcers.

Nexium has lost compound patent protection in the majority of global markets, and pulled in sales $121 million in Europe in the first half of this year. Vimovo is patent protected in most European markets until 2025. It generated global sales (excluding the US and Japan) of $37million in the same period.

Grünenthal will make an upfront payment of $700 million for Nexium, but AZ also stands to potentially receive future milestones and sales-related payments of up to $90 million.

For Vimovo, Grünenthal will make an upfront payment of $115 million, as well as potential future milestones and sales-related payments of up to $17 million.

“The divestment agreements allow us to realise value from our successful medicines while redeploying our resources on developing innovative medicines for patients across our three main therapy areas, which we expect to drive growth for AstraZeneca,” said Mark Mallon, executive vice president, Global Product & Portfolio Strategy at AZ, commenting on the move.

“Grünenthal is a science-based pharmaceutical company specialised in innovative pain management and related therapies. Its expertise and distribution networks will help expand the commercial potential of both Nexium and Vimovo, helping to reach many patients who could benefit.”

The divestment is expected to complete in 2018.