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July 27, 2015

Genzyme to Buy Caprelsa from AstraZeneca for Up to $300M

  • Genzyme, a Sanofi company, said today it will acquire the rare cancer therapy Caprelsa® (vandetanib) from AstraZeneca for up to $300 million, in a deal designed to bolster the buyer’s endocrinology portfolio.

    Currently available in 28 countries, Caprelsa is an oral kinase inhibitor indicated for symptomatic or progressive medullary thyroid carcinoma in patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic disease. Caprelsa is also in Phase III development for differentiated thyroid carcinoma, with the study expected to finish in the second half of 2015.

    “The addition of the Caprelsa represents a strong strategic fit for our rare endocrinology portfolio and underscores Genzyme’s commitment to addressing unmet needs in the thyroid community,” Genzyme President and CEO David Meeker, M.D., said in statements released by both companies. “We look forward to bringing our rare disease expertise to appropriate patients with advanced stage thyroid carcinoma.”

    Sanofi earlier this month said it will combine its medicines for rare diseases, with those for multiple sclerosis, oncology, and immunology in a new specialty care or “Sanofi Genzyme” unit—one of five new units created through a restructuring effective in January 2016.

    Genzyme has agreed to pay AstraZeneca up to $300 million. That price consists of a $165 million upfront payment to acquire the global rights to sell and further develop Caprelsa, plus up to $135 million in payments tied to achieving development and sales milestones.

    The deal does not include the transfer of any AstraZeneca employees or facilities, Genzyme said.

    Caprelsa was granted the FDA’s Orphan Drug designation in 2005 and won FDA approval in 2011. Last year, Caprelsa generated $48 million in global product sales, AstraZeneca said.

    “The divestment to Genzyme, an expert leader in endocrinology, demonstrates our commitment to ensure patients continue to have access to this medicine while we sharpen our focus on key disease areas,” Luke Miels, evp, global product and portfolio strategy and corporate affairs with AstraZeneca, said in the statements.

    Under CEO Pascal Soriot’s comeback strategy for AstraZeneca, launched in 2013, the company narrowed its drug development efforts to three core therapy areas: Cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; and respiratory, inflammation, and autoimmunity diseases. The company will also pursue programs in two former core areas, neuroscience and infection and vaccines, on a case-by-case or “opportunity-driven” basis.

    The deal is subject to closing conditions that include the receipt of antitrust clearance from the Federal Trade Commission. The transaction is expected to be completed later this year, and will not impact AstraZeneca’s financial guidance for 2015.

    Earlier this year, AstraZeneca offered guidance to investors projecting that its 2015 total revenue was expected to decline by a “mid single-digit percent” at constant exchange rates, while core earnings per share was expected to increase by a “low single-digit percent,” also at constant exchange rates.

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