In another show of strength, AstraZeneca has snapped up Almirall’s respiratory drugs in a deal worth up to $2.1 billion.

The Anglo-Swedish drug giant is laying $875 million on the table for rights to develop and commercialise the Spanish drugmaker’s lung portfolio, with the promise of an additional $1.22 billion if predefined development and sales goals are met.

The move not only beefs up an already core element of AZ’ business, adding immediate sales to the coffers, but also sends out a clear message that the firm is doing just fine on its own, after having strenuously fought off Pfizer’s initial advances earlier this year.

On the other side of the fence, the extra cash will help Almirall hone its focus on its key strategic area of dermatology, while retaining an important economic interest in the future success of its respiratory franchise.

The franchise being transferred to AZ includes: recently launched chronic obstructive pulmonary disease drug Eklira (aclidinium); LAS40464, the combination of aclidinium with formoterol which has been filed for registration in the EU and is being developed in the US; LAS100977 (abediterol), a once-daily long-acting beta2-agonist (LABA) in Phase II; an M3 antagonist beta2-agonist (MABA) platform in preclinical development (LAS191351, LAS194871) and Phase I (LAS190792); and multiple preclinical programmes. 

Also under the agreement, Almirall Sofotec, an Almirall subsidiary focused on the development of innovative proprietary devices, will transfer to AZ.

Edison Investment Research analyst Mick Cooper told PharmaTimes World News that the acquisition of Almirall’s products "provides AstraZeneca with broad portfolio to better compete with the new products being launched by GSK and Novartis".

"It also complements last year’s purchase of Pearl Therapeutics, as AstraZeneca will now be able to address both the dry powder and metered dose inhaler markets".

Immuno-oncology deal

Meanwhile, AZ also said today that it has signed a clinical study collaboration with Kyowa Hakko Kirin for a Phase I/Ib immuno-oncology study that will evaluate the safety and efficacy of two separate combinations of three investigational compounds in multiple solid tumours.

The study will evaluate AZ’ anti-PD-L1 antibody, MEDI4736, in combination with Kyowa Hakko Kirin’s anti-CCR4 antibody, mogamulizumab, and AZ’ anti-CTLA-4 antibody tremelimumab, in combination with mogamulizumab.

The drug giant signed a similar deal with US biotech Advaxis to to develop their respective cancer immunotherapies in combination just last week.