Pfizer will buy most of AstraZeneca’s antibiotics business in a $1.5bn (€1.32bn) deal that will see the Anglo-Swedish drug firm continue to package Merrem at its Macclesfield, UK plant for at least the next 18 months.

Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer will pay $550m upfront and a further payment of $175m in 2019 for commercialisation and development rights to the late-stage antibiotics business.

The US drug firm will also pay up to $250m in commercial, manufacturing and regulatory milestones, up to $600 million in sales-related payments as well as recurring, double-digit royalties on sales of Zavicefta and ATM-AVI in certain markets.

The deal will not involve AstraZeneca’s biological anti-infectives, or the early-stage antibiotics business it established in 2015.

Drugs

In terms of products, AstraZeneca’s antibiotics business is a mixture of approved drugs and promising candidates.

It sells Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma’s Merrem/Meronem (meropenem) outside certain Asian countries.

It markets the cephalosporin Zinforo (ceftaroline fosamil) outside North America and Japan.

Another drug in the portfolio, the combination antibiotic Zavicefta (ceftazidime-avibactam), was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in June.

Candidate products include ATM-AVI, an injectable combination of aztreonam and a β-lactamase inhibitor, and CXL, an injectable combination of ceftaroline fosamil and Avibactam, both of which are being developed in collaboration with Allergan.

Manufacturing

AstraZeneca outsources production of its antibiotics portfolio.

A spokesman for the firm told us that manufacturing contracts – which see contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs) in the UK, Italy, Switzerland and Japan produce antibiotics on its behalf – will be transferred to Pfizer when the deal completes in Q4.

He also said that, as part of the agreement with Pfizer, AstraZeneca will continue to fill and package vials of Merrem at its facility in Macclesfield, UK for at least the next 18 months.

Pfizer abandoned efforts to buy AstraZeneca outright in 2014.

25 – August – 2016