Britain's second-biggest drugmaker - subject of a $118 billion bid
by Pfizer that failed last month - said on Thursday it would pay
UK-based Synairgen a $7.25 million upfront fee and potential
development, regulatory and commercial milestones of up to $225
million for rights to the drug, codenamed SNG001.
The deal, which sent in shares in Synairgen surging 46 percent by
0740 GMT, marks a continuation of AstraZeneca's strategy of striking
bolt-on product licensing deals in key therapeutic areas, such as
Some analysts have speculated AstraZeneca might also consider a much
larger acquisition to try to see off the threat of a renewed Pfizer
approach. But others believe the British firm will come under
pressure from shareholders to revive talks with its larger U.S.
Under British takeover law, AstraZeneca can reach out to Pfizer in
late August to discuss a sweetened bid, or Pfizer could make renewed
overtures in November, whether it is invited back or not.
Pfizer Chief Financial Officer Frank D'Amelio, speaking to the
Goldman Sachs annual healthcare conference on Wednesday, said talks
about a deal with AstraZeneca had fallen down over price, rather
than any other issues.
Synairgen's SNG001 is an inhaled interferon beta medicine that was
originally invented at the University of Southampton, southern
AstraZeneca plans to start a mid-stage Phase IIa study with the drug
in early 2015 in patients with severe asthma, building on results
from an initial Phase lla trial in a broad asthma population.
Severe asthma is a growing focus for major drugmakers, which are
looking to a range of novel biotech medicines to help
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"SNG001 is an innovative and targeted therapy that has, if
successful, the potential to offer a step-change in the treatment of
severe asthma, and possibly COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary
disease),” said Maarten Kraan, AstraZeneca's head of respiratory,
inflammation and autoimmune medicines.
In addition to making milestone payments and covering the future
development costs for SNG001, AstraZeneca will also pay tiered
royalties ranging from a single-digit up to mid-teens percentage
rate on any eventual commercial sales.
Synairgen shares were up 24 pence or 45 percent at 76.03p by 0749
GMT, having risen as high as 85.95p, their highest since 2006.
(Editing by Paul Sandle and David Holmes)
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