AstraZeneca spends $240m on Moderna mRNA drugs; cuts even more jobs


Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca’s CEO, has announced further plans to turn around the drugmaker’s problems and return to growth.

After presenting major plans for an overhaul of the organisation’s R&D sector earlier this week, including the loss of 1,600 jobs, the company has now announced additional plans to cut another 2,300 jobs within sales and administration.

However, Pascal has stated that his strategy for the global pharma company is to replenish its sparse pipeline by focusing on three core disease areas: cancer, cardiovascular and metabolism disorders. He also said AZ would enter into more million-dollar external partnerships, such as the newly announced agreement with Moderna Therapeutics to discover, develop and commercialise Moderna’s pioneering messenger RNA therapeutics for the treatment of serious cardiovascular, metabolic and renal diseases as well as cancer.

“Today’s agreement signals an exciting move for AstraZeneca and our focus on innovation,” said Soriot.

“Together with Moderna, we are pushing the boundaries of science in the pioneering field of messenger RNA therapeutics. Where current drug discovery technologies can target only a fraction of the disease-relevant proteins in the human genome, we have the potential to create completely new medicines to treat patients with serious cardiometabolic diseases and cancer.”

The deal will see AstraZeneca make an upfront payment of US $240 million and has exclusive access to select up to 40 drug products for clinical development. AZ will lead the preclinical, clinical development and commercialisation of therapeutics resulting from the agreement and Moderna will be responsible for designing and manufacturing the messenger RNA against selected targets. Moderna is entitled to an additional $180 million for the achievement of three technical milestones.

“This multi-year strategic agreement with AstraZeneca is a very exciting and special moment for the Moderna team. The Company’s strategy is to develop, manufacture, and commercialize innovative drugs initially in rare diseases and oncology as well as to partner other therapeutic areas with best-in-class companies,” said Stephane Bancel, President and founding CEO of Moderna Therapeutics.

We share a common vision with AstraZeneca for how mRNA therapeutics will enable many new innovative drugs for targets which are totally undruggable today. We look forward to this unique opportunity where Moderna can apply its research platform, broad intellectual property portfolio and know-how to potentially contribute significantly to AstraZeneca’s pipeline.”


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