AstraZeneca offloads more Seroquel rights, this time to Cheplapharm for $42M

AstraZeneca has been hiving off drug rights left and right in recent years as a quick—but controversial—way to generate cash. With billions in rights sales already in its pocket, the company Tuesday offloaded United States and Canadian rights to once-blockbuster antipsychotic meds Seroquel and Seroquel XR.

AZ on Tuesday inked an agreement with Cheplapharm for U.S. and Canadian rights to the meds, which are used mostly to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Under the agreement, Cheplapharm will pay AZ $35 million up front and up to $6 million in sales-related milestones. Last year, the meds pulled in $115 million in the markets, where they're no longer patent-protected, AZ said. 

The sale “supports our strategy of reducing the number of mature medicines to enable reinvestment in our main therapy areas," AZ’s BioPharmaceuticals executive vice president Ruud Dobber said in a statement. 

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AstraZeneca has already made moves to wash its hands of Seroquel around the world. Cheplapharm in October purchased rights to the two meds in most European countries and Russia in a deal worth up to $239 million. And last year, AZ sold rights to the products in many other markets to Luye Pharma for up to $538 million. In that agreement, Luye agreed to pay AZ $260 million up front and up to $278 million in milestones. 

AZ hasn’t only sold off Seroquel rights. The company has been active with its pare-down strategy and in October offloaded rights on acid reflux med Losec to Cheplapharm for $243 million up front and up to $33 million in milestones. 

Other AZ sales in recent years include its $1.5 billion pact with Sobi on respiratory syncytial virus med Synagis, plus a Nexium and Vimovo rights deal with Grünenthal for $922 million. The company has also offloaded rights to Alvesco, Omnaris and Zetonna to Covis Pharma for $350 million, among other deals. 

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After suffering from major patent expirations at the start of the decade, AstraZeneca has recovered lately and has been among the fastest-growing pharma companies in the industry.