It didn’t get the whole package, but Pfizer will pay $1.5B for AZ’s antibiotics biz

Pfizer, $14 billion down after its biotech bonanza buyout of Medivation in cash this week, still has money in the pot to buy AstraZeneca’s antibiotics unit.

Had Pfizer ($PFE) managed to buy AstraZeneca ($AZN) two years ago for over $100 billion it would have already had access to this biz, but as we know this never happened--so Pfizer appears happy to step in and pick up what it wants from the U.K. firm’s yard sale, and AZ is happy to take the money to help shore up funds for its heightened focus on cancer.

Pfizer could pay out as much as $1.5 billion for AZ's so-called small-molecule antibiotics, which includes its pipeline meds aztreonam-avibactam (ATM-AVI) and CXL, as well as its marketed treatments Zavicefta (ceftazidime-avibactam), Merrem/Meronem (meropenem) and Zinforo (ceftaroline fosamil),

The deal does not, however, include biotech products developed by AstraZeneca’s biologics arms MedImmune. Pfizer will pay $550 million up front with a deferred payment of $175 million set to be paid out in January 2019.

AstraZeneca can also look forward to around $250 million in milestone payments, up to $600 million in sales-related payments, as well as tiered royalties on sales of Zavicefta and ATM-AVI in certain markets.

The two pipeline meds, ATM-AVI and CXL, currently see Allergan ($AGN)--another failed merger target of Pfizer’s--hold the rights to its sales in North America.

ATM-AVI is a bactericidal, injectable combination of aztreonam (ATM) and a β-lactamase inhibitor, avibactam (AVI, NXL104), which is in development for the treatment of life-threatening Gram-negative bacterial infections caused by multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains, including infections caused by metallo-beta-lactamase (MBL)-producing pathogens.

ATM-AVI is deisgned to work either as a replacement for, or alternative to, existing antibacterial agents such as colistin and tigecycline. ATM-AVI has cleared Phase I testing and has moved on into Phase II.

Meanwhile CXL is an injectable bactericidal β-lactam/β-lactamase inhibitor combination of ceftaroline fosamil (marketed as Zinforo by AstraZeneca), and is touted as a next-gen cephalosporin with activity against multidrug-resistant Gram-positive and common enteric Gram-negative pathogens, and avibactam (AVI, NXL104), a potent β-lactamase inhibitor that inhibits Ambler Class A (including ESBL producers and KPC carbapenemases), Class C (Amp C) β-lactamase enzymes, and some Class D β-lactamase enzymes.

John Young, group president of Pfizer Essential Health, said: “As we continue to reshape our Essential Health portfolio, we are focusing on areas that further address global public health needs and that complement our core capabilities and experience in therapeutic areas, including anti-infectives. We are committed to looking for ways to enhance our portfolio around the world where we offer patients and healthcare professionals access to more than 60 anti-infective and anti-fungal medicines.

“The addition of AstraZeneca’s complementary small molecule anti-infectives portfolio will help expand patient access to these important medicines and enhance our global expertise and offerings in this increasingly important area of therapeutics, in addition to providing the opportunity for near-term revenue growth.”

Antibiotics have become a major issue in research terms over the past decade as the threat of bacteria becoming resistant to the killing power of older antibiotics has increased, risking millions of deaths from simple infections that have not been fatal for more than half a century.

A number of governments, including both in the U.S. and the U.K., have called on pharma and biotech to do more to create new drugs that tackle resistance--but there has been reluctance given a small or non-existent ROI.  

The U.K government recently commissioned a report stating that the world’s richest countries could use a carrot and stick approach, essentially fining those companies that won’t research new antibiotics, and paying top dollar for those that do.

Over the years, AstraZeneca has made much of its commitment to antibiotic research, but much of the kudos will now be taken on by Pfizer. The British-based pharma has said it wants to refocus its strategy on more high-growth areas, such as oncology.

- check out the release

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