AZ inks TriLipix deal with Abbott

Is AstraZeneca doing enough to combat its coming patent-cliff sales slump? Some analysts tell Bloomberg that the company looks increasingly desperate to fill that sales chasm--to the point that it may overpay for stopgap acquisitions. "I am wary of their acquisition strategy," said Johan Stein, whose Stockholm-based firm oversees about $170 billion including AstraZeneca shares. "I'm sure they feel a certain desperation right now. When you are eager to fill the pipeline, there is always a risk you will overpay."

On the other hand, CEO David Brennan (photo) is trumpeting a productive turn in R&D, saying that he's only in the market for small acquisitions as he waits to see how his pipeline flows in coming months. And at least some market-watchers think AstraZeneca is undervalued; up-and-coming drug prospects really will do the trick, they say. "Much of AstraZeneca's longer-term concerns--excess capacity, merger and acquisition risk--can be diminished by pipeline execution," UBS analyst Gbola Amusa wrote in an investor note (as quoted by Bloomberg).

Meanwhile, AstraZeneca is forging ahead, announcing a new deal with Abbott Laboratories to develop a combo cholesterol pill and to market Abbott's already-on-the-market lipid remedy TriLipix. AstraZeneca will help promote TriLipix in the U.S. as the two companies await an FDA verdict on their Certriad med--a combo of TriLipix and AstraZeneca's blockbuster statin Crestor. "This agreement allows us to further strengthen our presence with physicians by including Trilipix as an offering to physicians for patients with dyslipidemia," said Jim Helm, an AstraZeneca U.S. vice president, in a statement. "With clinical data to support its use in helping certain patients with mixed dyslipidemia to manage all three key lipids, TriLipix is another important therapeutic option we can now offer physicians."

- see the AstraZeneca Trilipix announcement and Certriad release
- read the Bloomberg analysis