AstraZeneca resumes closet cleanout with $400M Atacand deal with Cheplapharm

AstaZeneca divested hypertension drugs Atacand and Atacand Plus in about 70 countries to Cheplapharm for $400 million. (Kritchanut/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

AstraZeneca’s back with some housekeeping.

The British pharma has agreed to sell the commercial rights to sister heart meds Atacand and Atacand Plus in about 70 countries to Cheplapharm Arzneimittel for $400 million, it said Friday. Notable markets missing from the deal include the U.S., China and Japan.

“This agreement forms part of our strategy to carefully manage the mature medicines, enabling reinvestment in our main therapy areas to bring innovative new medicines to patients,” Ruud Dobber, head of AZ’s biopharmaceuticals business unit, said in a statement.

Shedding the Atacand brands in those countries doesn’t affect AZ’s financial guidance for 2020, the company said. In 2019, the two drugs brought AZ $148 million in sales in the countries covered by the agreement.

The new pact adds onto AstraZeneca’s 2018 deal with Cheplapharm, where the latter gained European rights to the two hypertension drugs for $210 million.

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AZ has been clearing out rights to some established legacy products over the past few years to focus on more profitable and growing new drugs, and Cheplapharm is a regular buyer.

At the end of 2019, the German company bought U.S. and Canadian rights to antipsychotic meds Seroquel and Seroquel XR from AZ for $35 million up front and up to $6 million in sales-related milestones. Before that, U.K. and China rights to that same pair of drugs had already gone to Chinese firm Luye Pharma in a deal potentially worth $538 million.

And last October, AZ and Cheplapharm shook hands on a deal around acid reflux remedy Losec. For as much as $276 million, Cheplapharm gained rights to the proton pump inhibitor outside the U.S., China, Japan and Mexico.

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AZ's cardiovascular portfolio has been targeted for selloffs before. In Mach, hypertension meds Inderal, Tenormin, Tenoreticc, Zestril and Zestoreti landed on the chopping block in a $350 million upfront pact with Atnahs Pharma.

AstraZeneca’s focus these days has been on its oncology and respiratory drugs as well as diabetes therapy Farxiga, which recently branched out with a major approval in heart failure.