AZ sells rights to gastro drug Losec to Cheplapharm in $309m deal

AstraZeneca has agreed to sell most global commercial rights to its gastro drug Losec (omeprazole) and associated brands to Germany’s Cheplapharm Arzneimittel in a deal worth up to $309 million.

AZ has been selling off rights to old drugs for years as a way of bolstering its balance sheet during a time when many former blockbusters went off patent.

In this latest deal, which excludes China, Japan, the US and Mexico, AZ has divested medicines containing omeprazole marketed by AZ or collaborators under the Acimax, Antra, Mepral, Mopral, Omepral, and Zoltum brand names.

Cheplapharm will pay AZ around $243 million upon completion of the agreement, plus sales-contingent milestones of up to $33 million in 2021 and 2022.

This builds on a $210 million deal with Cheplapharm last year, where AZ sold European commercial rights to its high blood pressure drug Atacand (candesartan cilexetil) to the German pharma.

In 2018, Losec sales in the countries covered by this agreement were $98 million, the majority of which were in emerging markets.

AstraZeneca will continue to manufacture and supply Losec and its associated medicines and market the medicine in areas where it still holds the rights.

The commercial rights to Losec and other omeprazole medicines in the US, Japan and Mexico, as well as the commercial rights to the over-the-counter version in France, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand and the Netherlands were previously divested.

Losec is a proton pump inhibitor discovered and developed by AstraZeneca, which helps to reduce the amount of acid produced by the stomach in patients with gastrointestinal reflux conditions and ulcers. It has a number of approved indications and is commonly prescribed for patients with gastro oesophageal reflux disease.

Income from the upfront payment will be reported in the AZ financial statements in 2019 as Other Operating Income.

The agreement does not change the company’s financial guidance for 2019. As there were no closing considerations to the transaction, the agreement became effective upon signing.

Ruud Dobber, executive vice president at AZ’s BioPharmaceuticals division, said: “This agreement forms part of our strategy of reducing the portfolio of mature medicines to enable reinvestment in our main therapy areas, accelerating the number of innovative new medicines for patients with high unmet medical need.

“We already have an excellent relationship with Cheplapharm, and their strong European presence and global distribution network will help ensure continued patient access to Losec.”

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.