Targacept scores blockbuster $1.2B deal with AZ

Backed up with some impressive mid-stage data, Targacept has inked a $1.24 billion licensing deal with AstraZeneca for its promising new depression therapy.

The Winston-Salem, NC-based developer landed a $200 million upfront payment for TC-5214, with more than a billion dollars in development and sales milestones up for grabs. Targacept also gets "significant" double-digit royalties from any approved product from AstraZeneca, which is already partnered with the developer on two other programs. And the two companies are planning to launch a jointly designed Phase III next year as they map out plans to file for approval in 2012.

The size and scope of the worldwide collaboration deal underscore the impressive set of data Targacept reported on the drug-a nicotinic channel blocker. Targacept shares shot up to a record high on that report. And shares spiked 13 percent this morning as investors responded to the news of the pact.

"The opportunity to improve treatment in depression is a large one, both commercially and in terms of benefits for patients," said AstraZeneca Chief Executive Officer David Brennan in a statement. "It's an area both AstraZeneca and Targacept know well and I'm pleased to be adding another late stage project to our pipeline."

- check out Targacept's release
- here's the report from LocalTechWire
- and here's the story from the AP