Sobi buys AstraZeneca's RSV virus drug for $1.5bn


Sobi has completed the acquisition of AstraZeneca’s Synagis (palivizumab) for $1.5 billion in cash and shares, plus certain conditional payments.

As part of the deal, first announced in August, Sobi also gains the rights to participate in 50% of the future earnings of the candidate drug MEDI8897.

In a statement, the Swedish company said that the acquisition diversifies the company’s revenue base in immunology, and accelerates the build-up of its US commercial platform by more than doubling both the revenue and size of its US organisation, enhancing the financial contribution of the US to Sobi’s overall revenues to approximately one third.

Synagis is the only approved preventative medicine for serious lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in high-risk infants. MEDI8897 is a follow-on candidate to Synagis and a monoclonal antibody being investigated for the prevention of LRTI caused by RSV in a broad infant population.

As well as the upfront payment of $1.5 billion, consisting of cash and 24,193,092 newly issued Sobi common shares, the company will also pay $20 million in cash, per year, for the next three years as consideration for MEDI889.

Sobi may pay up to $470 million for Synagis sales-related milestones from 2026 onwards, plus $175 million following submission of the Biologics License Application to the FDA for MEDI8897. The agreement also includes potential net payments of approximately $110 million on achievement of other MEDI8897 profit and development-related milestones.

AstraZeneca will hold 8.1% of the total shares and votes in Sobi, and around 130 AstraZeneca employees will be transferred to Sobi as part of the transaction.

When the deal was first announced, AstraZeneca’s CEO Pascal Soriot said: “We continue to streamline our portfolio, allowing AstraZeneca to allocate resources more effectively, while Sobi’s focus on Synagis will enable infants in the US to continue benefiting from this important treatment.

“Meanwhile, the successful development and commercialisation of MEDI8897 remains important for AstraZeneca.”

Since the announcement of the deal, Sobi has also seen its Gamifant (emapalumab-lzsg), a treatment for primary hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH), approved by the FDA.

HLH is caused by hyper-inflammation whereby massive over-expression of interferon gamma (IFN-γ) is thought to cause the immune system to attack the body’s tissues and organs. The extremely rare condition usually manifests within the first year of life, progresses quickly and is usually fatal, with a median survival of less than two months.

AbbVie will continue to distribute Synagis outside the US, which will not be impacted by the proposed transaction with Sobi.