Impax licenses U.S. rights to AstraZeneca migraine drug, variations likely

Impax Pharmaceuticals is paying AstraZeneca ($AZN) $130 million so it can license U.S. commercial rights for three versions of the migraine drug Zomig. Their agreement also allows for new variations of the treatment. The Hayward, CA-based outfit is a division of Impax Laboratories ($IPXL), which has a proprietary controlled-release drug delivery technology it uses to develop specialty generics and branded products. We can surmise that a controlled-release version of Zomig (or versions) is likely to come out of the deal, longer-term.

Impax announced the licensing deal on Feb. 1. and will pay the initial cash in quarterly payments throughout the year. In return, the company gains exclusive U.S commercialization rights to Zomig's tablet, orally disintegrating tablet and nasal spray drug delivery formulations. As part of the agreement, Impax also gains non-exclusive rights to develop new products containing zolmitriptan and market them using the Zomig brand name.

AstraZeneca stands to make even more money in the long run. Impax said it will fork over tiered royalty payments to AstraZeneca based on future sales of zolmitriptan-related products. So where does Impax stand to gain here? The company can count the gross profit of Zomig sales in the U.S. retroactively as of Jan. 1. Executives also plan to use the drug to help grow Impax's sales force as it develops its IPX066 Parkinson's drug.

Zomig, by the way, generated $163 million in net U.S. sales during the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2011, according to Impax.

- here's the announcement

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