Call it a case of hindsight. Abraxis Bioscience and AstraZeneca are poised to end their two-year marketing partnership on the breast cancer treatment Abraxane, which cost Astra $200 million back in 2006. The drug hasn't paid off as expected. Last year, the British drugmaker's share of sales only amounted to $62 million.
Apparently, Abraxis thinks it can do better. In a statement, CEO Patrick Soon-Siong said that Abraxis would beef up its sales force to better support Abraxane, and that it would plow significant resources into research to expand the cancer drug's uses. Some Phase II research pitting Abraxane against pancreatic, lung and breast cancers, plus melanoma, have laid a foundation for Phase III trials into "a number of new indications."
AstraZeneca, for its part, seems to think it hasn't been compensated enough for its sales efforts. Its commission off Abraxane sales amounts to only 22 percent. So even if the companies don't completely sever their Abraxane ties, the deal is set to change significantly. If Abraxis' board approves the termination agreement, the company would pay $268 million to AstraZeneca by March 31 next year. If not, the co-promotion deal will continue--but AstraZeneca will get a 50 percent commission instead of 22 percent. Sweet.