AstraZeneca/Pearl Therapeutics

10. Buyer: AstraZeneca
Target: Pearl Therapeutics
Price: $1.15 billion

AstraZeneca ($AZN) is facing some serious patent cliff pain and so has been doing deals to right itself in the face of the onslaught. Its chance to buy out the Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) share of their diabetes partnership was an unexpected opportunity, although at more than $4.3 billion, an expensive one. But it has also been buying some in-development products in hopes of picking a winner that will provide a short-term boost. Its deal for Pearl Therapeutics and its LABA/LAMA COPD therapy falls into that category.

Pearl started Phase III trials last year and expects to wrap up its late-stage work in time for a regulatory filing in mid-2015. It believes its twice-daily dosing at critical times of the day will prove superior to the once-daily approach taken by the competition. Its PT003 is a combo of formoterol fumarate, a long-acting beta2-agonist (LABA), and glycopyrrolate, a long-acting muscarinic antagonist (LAMA). The biotech is also working on a triple-combination product that combines the LAMA and LABA components of PT003 with an inhaled corticosteroid.

But the competition in the COPD category is pretty fierce and plentiful. It has yet to be seen whether AstraZeneca fares any better at picking potential winners than it has been in getting them out of its own R&D efforts. Novartis ($NVS) and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) are well ahead in this race, with Boehringer Ingelheim and Forest Laboratories ($FRX) close behind.

Separately, AstraZeneca committed $440 million to the U.K.-based antibody-drug conjugate developer Spirogen, and another $20 million for another, Switzerland's ADC Therapeutics.

Any payoff that AstraZeneca can get from CEO Pascal Soriot's bets can come none too soon. Its stomach upset blockbuster Nexium goes off patent in the U.S. in May, putting $2.3 billion at risk. Some patents for its asthma drug Symbicort, a $3.5 billion global seller, fall off this year. Then there is Crestor. One of the best selling drugs in the world with 2013 revenues of more than $6 billion, it loses its U.S. patent in 2016.

For more:
Special Report:
The 10 best-selling drugs of 2013 - Crestor
AstraZeneca bags another PhIII therapy in $1.15B Pearl buyout
AstraZeneca sees earlier patent-cliff recovery, thanks to $4 billion diabetes buyout

-- Eric Palmer (email | Twitter)

AstraZeneca/Pearl Therapeutics
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