Basilea lands $510M co-marketing pact with Astellas

Switzerland's Basilea nailed a $510 million co-marketing pact with Astellas Pharma, hauling in a $70 million upfront payment and gaining a partner who will take over Phase III development of the late-stage antifungal isavuconazole, significantly reducing Basilea's burn rate.

The Japanese company agreed to pay up to $440 million in development and sales milestones along with double-digit royalties for the therapy. Analysts seemed to like what they saw in the deal, noting that it's a bit earlier than expected and helps Basilea resolve unexpected headaches involving its lead program for the antibiotic ceftobiprole. J&J dumped that program back in Basilea's lap a few days ago after European regulators turned their thumbs down on an approval. But Basilea's shares rose after J&J dropped out, with speculation swirling that the fallout could make the developer a takeover target.

"We would expect that this partnership should significantly reduce the company's burn rate in R&D and, therefore, secure its financing well into 2012, when we expect the company to break even," noted Helvea analyst Olav Zilian. "The value of this partnership resides also in the fact that Astellas is a Japanese pharmaceutical company with global reach and a successful track record in developing and commercializing antifungals in the hospital sector internationally."

Basilea retains an option to co-promote the product in the United States, Canada, major European countries and the People's Republic of China.

- check out Basilea's release on the deal
- here's the Reuters story