AstraZeneca hawks suite of hypertension drugs for $350M in latest asset sale

AstraZeneca's asset sales continue with the $350 million divesture of five hypertension drugs. (AstraZeneca)

In its push to flush cash into a red-hot oncology field, AstraZeneca has made a gung-ho attempt to sell off non-core and underperforming assets in its portfolio. Only a week after the British drugmaker pawned off one of its gastrointestinal meds, AstraZeneca is back on the auction block with a suite of its hypertension drugs. 

AstraZeneca has sold global commercial rights for hypertension meds Inderal, Tenormin, Tenoretic, Zestril and Zestoretic to Atnahs Pharma to the tune of $350 million and future milestone payments, the drugmaker said Monday. 

The future payments are sales contingent, AstraZeneca said, and could add up to $40 million between 2020 and 2022. 

AstraZeneca's offloading of its hypertension quintet comes only a week after it divested most of its global rights for GI med Movantik to RedHill Pharma for $67.5 million.

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As part of its sublicense deal, which doesn't include rights in Europe, Canada or Israel, AstraZeneca will receive $52.5 million in cash upfront with an additional $15 million due in 2021. RedHill will acquire U.S. rights to the drug through a co-commercial deal AstraZeneca signed with Daiichi Sankyo in 2015. 

AstraZeneca will continue to manufacture and supply Movantik during a "transition period" to RedHill, the company said. Movantik, an oral, once-daily treatment for opioid-induced constipation, posted $96 million in sales in 2019, AstraZeneca said. 

In October, AstraZeneca opted to sell most of its global commercial rights for Losec (omeprazole) for $243 million to German pharma Cheplapharm Arzneimittel GmbH. The deal included sales-contingent milestone payments of up to $33 million in 2021 and 2022, AstraZeneca said.

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AstraZeneca chose to continue making and supplying Losec and hang onto marketing rights in the U.S., China, Japan and Mexico. The sale included all of AstraZeneca’s drugs made with omeprazole, including Acimax, Antra, Mepral, Mopral, Omepral and Zoltum.

The Losec sale was AstraZeneca's first major divesture since its November 2018 sale of Synagis, a drug to prevent infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus, to Sweden’s Sobi for $1.5 billion. That sale capped a period of wheeling and dealing on AstraZeneca's part after the drugmaker committed to a portfolio overhaul to invest more heavily in its oncology pipeline.

So far, that strategy has worked, despite some past criticism, as AstraZeneca returned to growth late in 2018 on the back of big, selloff-fueled investments in oncology.