AstraZeneca has signed on to promote Amgen's bone drug denosumab in Japan. The deal with Daiichi Sankyo, which holds the Japanese rights to the drug, gives AZ a promising new treatment to sell in a market where it's been looking to expand. The company will focus on marketing denosumab for use in cancer patients, while Daiichi will also sell it for osteoporosis.
Sold in the U.S. as Prolia to treat osteoporosis and Xgeva for cancer patients, denosumab is still waiting for regulatory approval in Japan. That country is already AstraZeneca's second-largest market, with $2.6 billion in 2010 sales, a 4 percent increase from 2009. This marketing deal will give it another welcome boost. "Collaborations like this are a key part of our strategy to bring innovative medicines to patients," EVP Tony Zook said in a statement. "This partnership leverages our long-standing commitment to oncology in Japan."
For Amgen, the marketing deal is another piece of the promotional puzzle on denosumab. GlaxoSmithKline has signed on to market the drug in Europe and several emerging markets in which Amgen doesn't already have a commercial presence, Dow Jones points out. And there's the Japanese license held by Daiichi. Analysts are predicting that the drug's annual sales could reach $3 billion or more.