AstraZeneca's rummage sale continues with $350M deal, its second in a week

AstraZeneca generated $350 million in its latest asset sale, this time with Covis Pharma. (AstraZeneca)

Only a week after AstraZeneca worked up a deal to sell some Nexium and Vimovo rights for hundreds of millions of dollars, the company is back at it with an agreement that’ll generate $350 million in cash. 

In a deal with Covis Pharma, AstraZeneca is selling rights to asthma treatment Alvesco, plus rhinitis meds Omnaris and Zetonna, for $350 million. The deal also includes sales milestones of up to $21 million. 

Covis already owns U.S. rights to the drugs, thanks to a separate deal last year. The new agreement gives the smaller pharma full rights to the meds, and now AZ will be hands off with the drugs. Together, the three meds pulled in $106 million last year.

The deal follows a long line of similar selloffs that have ginned up cash for the Big Pharma while drawing criticism from some analysts and investors. And it fits AZ’s desire to offload certain drugs as it works to refocus, EVP of global product and portfolio strategy Mark Mallon said in a statement. That strategy allows the company to “allocate resources to develop innovative new medicines to address unmet patient needs,” he added.

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The deal follows AZ’s move last week to sell Nexium rights in Europe and Vimovo rights worldwide to Grünenthal in exchange for up to $922 million. In that arrangement, AZ gets $815 million up front.  

With the deals, AstraZeneca is seeking to scale down in non-core therapeutic areas, generate cash from older meds and put its resources behind key franchises in oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and respiratory ailments.

The latest agreement also follows the company's decision in May to unload certain rights to Seroquel and Seroquel XR to Luye Pharma for $538 million. Before that, several other deals have yielded billions of dollars in cash for AZ.

For instance, in a huge agreement inked last year, AZ teamed up with Merck on its PARP inhibitor Lynparza, trading half of its revenue rights in exchange for $1.6 billion up front, plus milestones that could take the total deal value to $8.5 billion. The deal also includes development projects in combination with Merck's Keytruda and an AZ pipeline med.

Previously, AZ inked agreements to sell rights for certain heart drugs to Italy's Recordati, aesthetics products to Aspen, a portfolio of antibiotics to Pfizer and gout drug Zurampic to Ironwood.