AstraZeneca is looking to partner with peers
After signing a broad licensing deal with Amgen Inc. that involves five experimental compounds, AstraZeneca is looking for partnerships with industry peers. Martin Mackay, head of research at the London-headquartered drugmaker, which conducts its R&D in Sweden, said he was also considering smaller acquisitions, product licensing deals and more partnerships with big biotech and big pharma. The deal with Amgen buys rights to jointly develop and sell five of the US biotech majors experimental autoimmune drugs, and follows a similar tie-up in diabetes five years ago with Bristol-Myers Squibb. Amgen and AstraZeneca decided to jointly develop and commercialise five of Amgens mAbs in the field of inflammation. The deal includes the anti-IL17R mAb brodalumab which will begin phase III testing this year in psoriasis. The monoclonal antibody is also being tested in phase II to treat psoriatic arthritis and asthma. The shared portfolio also includes: AMG 139, an undisclosed mAb in Phase Ib testing for Crohns disease, AMG 157, a mAb in phase Ib testing for asthma and atopic dermatitis, AMG 181, an undisclosed mAb in Phase Ib testing for ulcerative colitis and Crohns disease and finally AMG 557, a mAb in phase I for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Amgen receives $50m upfront. The partners and will share costs and profits. The British-Swedish company will fund two thirds of costs until 2014, after which the partners will split costs equally. Amgen and AstraZeneca will share profits equally. AstraZeneca is in the lead for the development and commercialisation of AMG 139, AMG 157 and AMG 181, while its US partner is responsible for brodalumab and AMG 557. Analysts expect that AstraZeneca alone will invest about $250m in 2013 and 2014. However, the company declined to comment those numbers. The drugmaker is suffering from recent product failure and shrinking revenues. Mackay announced the intention to close other similar deals by the end of the year.